Monday, February 01, 2010

Them Without This?

The morning my dad left Saigon, he said he wished he could lift up the whole neighborhood and move it to Seattle.

That's where my mind goes when I think about leaving here, too.

Sometimes I think about suggesting to T and T that they come back to America with me, but what would they be without their family, their community? So yeah, just lift it all on up and...

When Katherine came back from spending Christmas in Montreal, she was showing Thanh pictures of her neighborhood covered with snow. She pointed out her house, the one at the end of the cul-de-sac. Thanh's only response was, "Where are all the people?"

Exactly. Where are they?

*****

I haven't mentioned yet how much my mom and dad loved Thuy and Thanh, and how much Thuy and Thanh loved them back. Thanh is more of a "mother" person - for a year and a half she has questioned how I could live away from my mother - and she especially loved my mom. Thuy, on the other hand, especially loved my dad. Every weekend now, after asking after my parents, she will look sideways at me and ask, "Does your father remember me? (Does your father miss me?)"

"Yes," I have told her five times now, "my father remembers you." And she gets a little teary.

My mom had a dinner party for her friends last weekend and made pho like Thuy taught her. I told them about it on Saturday, and on Sunday morning, Thanh was so excited to ask me: "Maggie. Your mother. How was dinner?"

Thuy called them "Mum and Daddy." She pronounced daddy "Dad-dee." She usually walked with her arm intertwined with his. And whenever I talked to them when my parents weren't with me, she would ask if he was resting. "Yeah... Dad-dee needs rest," she would say. The way she said it seemed kind of, well, admonishing. I'm certain she disapproved of all of my planned travels and activities for my poor parents.

So despite this connection, my father - when he made this comment about picking up the neighborhood - could not even suggest that they actually move to Seattle. What would they be without THIS? So yeah...

Now you'll understand why it is an understatement to say how surprised I was when Thuy said the following to me last weekend:

"Maggie. I want to move to Seattle. I will open a restaurant."

"Really?"

"Yes. Two years. Then I come back."

This piggy-backed on another surprise I heard from her the last night my family was here: Thuy has been dating someone for almost a year now, and we at the castle have never met him. He is scared to meet us, she keeps telling me. So when we were all out to dinner that last night, Thuy announced that she might marry "Yom" next year. I was dumbfounded at this. So:

"But what about Yom?" I asked her. "You will move to Seattle with him?"

"No. Two years there, I come back to him."

The longer I live here, the less I understand. But, then - go to America, send money home, come back and live better here after a time. I guess. That's how it's supposed to go, right?

So I told Thuy I would check into it, and I will. However, why do I feel like I would be committing some kind of crime if it ever actually happened?

Mom and Dad, it would be a crime, wouldn't it? Them without THIS?

11 comments:

Carol said...

Wow. Thuy would be so lonely here. I can't imagine it.

John said...

I'm also concerned that T is underestimating the task she envisions, emotionally and business wise. Could the fellow who started Tamarind Tree talk with her when he visits Vietnam?

Mungouy said...

It WOULD be quite a challenge to open a restaurant here and have it be successful for just a two-year period... But, I say, BRING IT ON!!! (maybe a bit selfish... thinking it may be the only way for me to every meet T...)

Brian Bowker said...

Do you feel a little embarrassed? Like if you had a really messy house and then some friends decided to stop by as a surprise? You don't want them to see how messy your house is, but you don't want to tell them to go away either.

Are you embarrassed to have her come and experience the isolation, as Mom put it, that we have built for ourselves? I think I would be...

And yet, you don't want to tell her not to come to your country...

Jessica said...

Tell her I will eat there all the time!

SeattlePam said...

Brian, you said it perfect. I just almost would feel ashamed of them being here in some strange way. Their life is so rich, despite the seeming financial disparity. Marjie, encourage them to stay! BUT if she does come to Seattle I would be a big promoter and her biggest fan!

Brian Bowker said...

Good way to put it, SeattlePam!

Marjie - make sure Thuy understands that there are different kinds of wealth, and that our country is very "community poor" compared to your neighborhood.

That may sound unpatriotic, but I just don't see two ways about it.

Amy T. said...

Is it money she seeks, or the experience? None of us would deny her the life-changing, eye-opening, core-challenging experience of living in a foreign land. We love this blog because we so believe in that experience.
If it's money, and she knows a "rich American" then perhaps there are other answers. We shouldn't deny our wealth, open market... are there options for export? Web market?
Next Sunday, in the Castle, ask her why.

PS Mungo, you've left Judiasm?

Angie said...

I'm with Amy, ask her why. As much as I would love to see Thuy again, I can't help but think she wouldn't like it here very much. I walked all around our neighborhood this morning and only saw two people, and they were in their cars. Granted, it was raining, but the constant gray here wouldn't be a positive, either. However, Maple Valley could sure use a good Vietnamese restaurant!

marjie said...

Great comments, everyone. Yeah, that's how I feel, Brian.

Ravenous Couple said...

there's a really big vietnamese population in Seattle, but still it's not the same...thanks for visiting our site! we try to put some cultural context to our vietnamese food posts..but in regards to your question on bo luc lac, you're better off asking the locals..we haven't been in VN for several years..we normally eat like locals there, so hardly go to restaurants, but the one restaurant we did enjoy was called Quan An Ngon...