You have that throw.
Each of us is leading a difficult life, and when we meet people we are only seeing a tiny part of the thinnest veneer of their complex, troubled existences. To practice anything other than kindness towards them, to treat them in any way save generously, is to quietly deny them their humanity.
My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.
It is odd.
I think for the first time in my life, there is someone who really cares about me, tries hard to please me, and does so in a positive way; I am not constantly being criticized. He is not passive aggressive. He makes me breakfast, lunch, and dinner often. Best part, he is s
In fact, I’m the one bringing in negative energy most of the time.
Sometimes my insecurities the best of me. But I don’t realize it immediately. I just feel blinding flares of hurt, irritation, and jealousy. But because of his patience, I think I am slowly learning to become a better person
He grew up the son of a poor farmer in Taiwan.
The youngest of 10 kids, they barely had enough to eat. My grandma beat him if he neglected to return home with the daily quota of yams.
Once when he was 10 years old, instead of manning their small shop, he got distracted and went out to play in the fields. But he stepped on broken glass in the ditch and cut up his feet. When he returned home, she was furious. How could he be so irresponsible and neglect the shop? My grandma tied up his arms and beat out her frustrations and anger with life. His wails pierced through the thin walls; the neighbors were conflicted. Life was hard and he deserved to be punished…but the child’s shrieks prickled their hearts.
When he was in high school, he was one of the more gregarious students. It seems that the hardships of his earlier life made him stronger. Determined to excel, he rose through the ranks of his peers and became the Class President.
Always in the spotlight, his charisma helped him lead his classmates through the forests of Taiwan, through biking trips, and through other extracurricular school activities.
After high school, he joined the Taiwanese military; he had to, all males after the age of 18 are obligated to complete one year of basic training.
Throughout his youth however, he kept yearning for something. This dream hung over him like a heavy mist at home, at school, and at work. He had an American dream. He dreamed of moving to the US with his girlfriend, working hard, and subsequently living a sweet life in the Golden State.
And so he worked hard indeed. His sisters scraped together their meager savings to buy him a plane ticket. Against his father’s wishes and only 23, he flew to LA.
Once in LA, all the whir and rush to get out of Taiwan came to an abrupt stop. Now what?
When he realized that he had little money and no income, he scrambled to find a job. Naturally attracted to other Mandarin speaking immigrants, he managed to find work as a kitchen helper. He washed dishes, scampered around sweeping the floor, cut chicken…he did everything he was told to do.
I think he really loved his girlfriend. I don’t know what happened though; I bet she broke his heart.
Dejected and penniless, he slept in a car for a couple of months and showered in the restaurant kitchen. He was paid almost nothing– 200 dollars a month– but he couldn’t do anything because he wasn’t a citizen. This was not the glory he imagined. However disillusioned with life though, he could not go back to Taiwan. That would be shameful. After all the hurrah put into his departure, he could not return like a shamed dog with his tail tucked in.
He hid from his family the hardships of life the Great United States of America. They thought he was living his dream. To this day, I do not think they realize how unhappy he was.
So he put up with the crap. He put up with his degrading job. He put up with the racist remarks and side glances he received from other people. His skin became thicker and he became more determined to succeed. People lied to him and took his money. All these experiences were deposited in the depths of his heart– only to resurface later when he needed motivation to work harder.
One day he moved up to Seattle to work with my uncle. Then he met my mother. She liked him because he made her feel safe. They decided to get married.
There was still a huge elephant in their lives though. Without a green card, their lives were severely limited in the USA. Together they moved to Vancouver.
He tried his hand at opening a business. Life was difficult. They woke up at 4:30 every morning, went to drop off my sister and I off at a baby sitter’s house, and then went to pick up pastries for their cafe. They closed the shop at 7 pm. Every night, my mother slept at around 1 am. She had to prepare food for the next day. The cafe was a failure. They lost money each day. Then he tried his hand a tour guiding. Working as a tour guide was slightly better.
It brought him back to his high school days. He enjoyed leading people and explaining the history of different places. But the constant travel was taking a toll on him. He was tired of living on the road. He wanted to settle down.
He subsequently looked into real estate. He studied for his real estate license. He went door to door, introducing himself to his neighbors. He cold called the endless Yellow Pages lists of numbers, desperately trying to find potential clients. He pushed past their rude responses hoping to find that one lucky number.
Slowly, he built up a repertoire of clients. It was hard. He had to build up trust. He went around fixing doorways and cabinets. He helped clients figure out how to settle their children into the public schools. He helped take them to their drivers license exam. He did all sorts of odd jobs to weasel himself into their becoming a business/family friend.
And now, he owns a million dollar house.
But he always shouts. That’s how he converses. A passionate man, he’s quick to tell you why you’re wrong. Sometimes he gets lost in his passion and doesn’t seem to hear what other people say. I’m not sure when he last truly laughed. He seems to always be morose or angry.
He cast a shadow over me all my life. I wanted to please him. I wanted to make him proud.
I love him.
But it’s time to move on.