It's been a long time since I've had a peaceful two-day weekend for myself. The last one was on Memorial Day, but I had to fly to California for my nephew's wedding. It was very hectic. While yesterday was a busy day for me, it wasn't a work day. I had planned to do a number of chores today, but it feels so good just laying in bed now that I have decided to just relax. I deserve it.
I'm looking out the window of my bedroom right now, and the sun is dancing through the leaves, flashing rays of light, at times stronger, at times dimmer...so peaceful. The sky above it seems to respond to the flickering sun, sometimes clear blue, sometimes with a touch of fog. I don't know why, but I have not heard the birds yet. It's amazingly quiet. All I can hear is the soft sound of the laptop next to me and the breezing sound of the ceiling fan right above my bed. The soft white curtain sheer moves gently as if there were a real breeze passing by. My sister in the next room is still sound as sleep. There is not at all a snoring sound since I am already awake.
Normally, I would turn on the TV the minute I wake up. Today, I'm not going to destroy the serenity of my quiet day. It is days like this when I reminisce the days when I was still in my country, more than thirty years ago. It's frightening how time flies.
Those days, I was still an innocent, little kid struggling through the hands of the communists, trying to help my mom make ends meet...an eight -year-old son of a University professor selling candies and bananas. The world was foreign to me after the communists took over South Vietnam. I was totally happy that I was able to help make money to survive. I never thought of it as a chore. But what I wondered in my little mind was what happened and why were things so different. We were poor before the communist came but not like that. Suddenly, we had to eat rice mixed with either corn or yucca, or sweet potato. And there was so little to eat, too. The world turned up side down. The old world that I belonged to disappeared.
Then, we escaped. In the U.S., everything was completely new. Even though we had to struggle for a long, long time, it was still heaven. Regardless of how poor we were, we never had to worry about not having enough food or clothes. But it has not been the same. Everywhere we turn, people look different, and they look at us differently. Many of the days of my high school years, having lunch at school was not peaceful. A lot of times, the other kids loved to throw food and milk at us. Sometimes, I found myself standing in the middle of a whole bunch of kids fighting. Sometimes, while walking home, kids from the school bus would spit at me or laugh at me. They thought we lived in little huts in some rice fields or some jungles somewhere. The world was very different for me. I just finished sixth grade in my country, so jumping into high school was a huge change. On top of that, school was not a friendly place. On top of that, I had to work some to help my family.
I showed them, though. I graduated number one in my class. They were not laughing then. But, I still never could feel belonged. Then, I realized I was gay, not just different; I was gay. The world, again, changed. And, from then, my life became a whirlwind...one that was mainly created by fear, by ME.
So, I never feel belonged. Even if the communists are gone in my country, I still don't want to go back and live in Vietnam. It has been changed. The people there are way different. Because of their struggles to survive, a lot of them just care about how much money you will give them. A lot of them have mentalities that are strange to me. I don't belong there any more. I don't want to go back there. I want to preserve the memories that have of my country.
Yet, I don't feel belonged here either. Patients still call my office and ask if I speak English. Neighbors still ask if we own some nail salons.
On top of that, I am gay. How can a gay man feel belonged?
Well, one good thing is that these are just my reflections. It's been a long, long time since I yearn to live in Vietnam. I'm very thankful I am where I am. And I have realized that there are a lot of nice Americans, too. If some of them don't like to be around me, let that be their problem. And, I love me as a gay man. I thank God that I am at peace with that.
So, on a peaceful day like today, I thank God that I live in a free country. I thank God I don't have to feel belonged to be happy. I thank God for my family, my boyfriend Jim, and all of my friends.
"What did you say, Dear Confucius?"
"Feelean beenong eez zust eng hallu-cing-na-cheong! Geg duh elle out off jour goom eng loo jome ting!"