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I am From
I am from a journey
created by war
a run for life through tangled jungles,
a swim for safety across the Mekong,
a search for a place called home.
I am from the aroma
of pho noodles in beef stock,
early morning cooked rice,
and brewed rice wine in the winter air
in the warmth of the kitchen
where I learned that cooking for the family is a daily priority.
I am from afternoon walks around the neighborhood to pick plums and apples while the neighbors weren't home,
from chases after the ice cream truck for an orange dream bar
while my parents weren’t home because they’d yell about stealing and spending money.
I am from the skips of a rubber band jump rope in the hot summer sun,
and hop-scotch on the heat of our old cracked driveway.
From playing Jax with rocks around the house
because I grew up with only a working Mom.
I am from slamming doors,
pounding of feet up the stairs.
To get away from yells of "You're a disappointment."
to "What a disgrace."
I am from laughter to lectures
about anything and everything said
such as failing grades, being out late
and many things I haven’t even done yet.
I am from little BFs to fists and bruises
because of short tempered siblings.
I am from a damaged soul
that is revealed by tears for the loss of
a grandfather, a grandmother,
an aunt, an uncle,
a cousin, a friend.
I am from summers of babysitting.
From late night star gazing,
to playing Kick the Can and Ghost in the Graveyard at midnight
because those summers of babysitting were the summers that I was free from my parents rule.
I am from the pressure to be perfect,
“You’re the last hope for you’re parents” others would tell me, because my sister got pregnant before marriage, because my sisters became smokers, because my sisters didn’t fulfill my parents dream of becoming a nurse or doctor.
I am from the highest expectations that were set for me because I was born the youngest out of 7 daughters.
I am from fears of becoming a disappointment,
of not being able to reach those expectations.
From judgments that came from people I never knew of, which taught me I shouldn’t live to please other people.
I am from the shadows of an innocent girl that got tired of following rules and became a rebel.
I am from sneaking out late to party,
to skipping school every other day.
From drinking tickets to court dates
because I didn’t care what anybody said.
I am from a strict family
whose rules left me to be rebellious
but strong because I’ve found my way through a jungle of high expectations and judgments,
and I’ve crossed my own river where I’ve become more independent.
I am from a journey of another journey,
which lead me, to be me.