Things I Now Know About My Vietnamese Parents
1. That their first meal in the U.S. was fried chicken at Travis Airforce Base. My mom says it was the best she's ever had. Made even more delicious because they'd just spent a year and a half in a refugee camp in Pulau Bidong, where they didn't have much protein, just canned beans and sardines. And half a cabbage every two weeks.
2. That they were freezing in March in Northern California weather and couldn't believe people were walking around Travis AFB in short sleeves.
3. That my mom's family has a burial plot in Vietnam. Where she may or may not want to be buried. I don't know for certain because every time I bring it up, she says, "I don't know. People don't talk about that kind of thing."
4. That the first time we had a restaurant meal with our sponsor family in Eugene, Oregon, they ordered my mom a cheeseburger and she could barely eat a third of it and thought it was astounding that they brought her a "doggie bag" to take home the leftovers. People just didn't do that back in 'Nam.
5. That my dad was run over by an Army jeep when he was 9 and got a huge gash on his forehead that required stitches without anesthetic.
6. That he still has shrapnel in his back that from a bomb blast near his fox hole during the Vietnam War.
7. That they sold medicine on blankets on the side of a road, considered part of the 'black market' but it was more like a flea market. Still, they got busted and spent a day in jail. While my mom was pregnant with me. I've been inside a Vietnamese jail. That has to add a little sump'n sump'n to my street cred.
8. That my mom used to collect sheets of music lyrics and she was very hipster.
9. That my dad has been a hustler since he was a kid, when he would catch grasshoppers and crickets and sell them as pets or trade them for coveted glass marbles.
10. That they have no photos from their country wedding on a rainy day in 1976 in Vinh My.
Slices of life that have shaped who they are, and how they look at the world.
They do not, however, provide any insight as to why I don't like to close cabinet doors.