Sunday, March 27, 2011

Place 7

My mom told me never to talk to strangers. Maybe that's why I don't talk to my dad. My dad hasn't been there throughout my life. I mean, let me try this again. I don't like talking to my dad because he scares me, in a Vietnamese kind of way. I don't really understand the language, so when he talks, it always sounds like he's angry. He could be congratulating me about a job promotion and I would think he was throwing me out of his house. I've seen the History channel. The Viet Cong was ruthless and my dad looks just like one of them.

There's a couple of strangers at my spot. They look like a couple. Only couples hold hands. They're in their mid-50's. How they are acting, I would say they're in love. I want to tell them to get the f out of my spot.

There are a lot of strange things here, besides the couple that's in love. This place is no longer my place. Footprints, a forgotten frisbee, and a couple of pop cans are all what is left from the couple of spring days we had in Pittsburgh. Winter in Pittsburgh is 12 months of the year. Only five of those months have zero snow. Sometimes there are days during the snow season where it gets hot and people wear shorts. It's like Hawaii, but everyone is wearing yellow and tries to pretend they're...Hawaiians.

I'm usually ok with  strangness, but I expected nature to be normal. By normal, I mean expected. I would love to move to Hawaii. The weather is always between 65 and 75 degrees. You will find people at the beach. People will be eating spam or sushi for lunch and dinner. At night, pants would still be an option. Then it would repeat. I wouldn't have to buy so many clothes.Just shorts and t-shirts. That could last me the rest of my life in Hawaii.

Then I realize how awful that would be. I would miss the snow. I would miss the surprise of snowstorms and rainfalls. After a month of paradise, paradise would seem like hell, and hell would seem like hell. I take a look at the couple and they wave at me. I wave back and walk away. Tomorrow will be a new day and maybe I get to wear shorts.


  1. Thanh, your opening sentences are quite powerful. They made me want to read a whole essay on this topic. It's also interesting how we like to take ownership of these places we love and feel that others are tresspassing when they show up. I think I wouldn't mind sharing so much, if they didn't leave their frisbbess and cans behind.

  2. I agree with Gina on the power of your opening sentences. They catch the reader offguard, as one hardly expects a parent to be a stranger. But I'm right there with you; my father was never a part of my life and we don't have a relationship.

    I also think it's fascinating how your father's culture affects his behavior and your perception of him. Intercultural issues add another level to the barrier already in place.

  3. Yeah, that is one hell of an opening line. Yoy. Also remarkable stuff - about the linguistic divide, the nature of strangers, etc.

    If you haven't read him yet, I strongly recommend (for you specifically) reading David Foster Wallace. He has the same kind of recurrant backtracking, re-phrasing, clever clarifications that seem like rambling but solidify into a larger landscape. I could not possibly recommend "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men" enough. Don't let the title discourage; it's a hilarious book.

  4. I appreciate the unpredictability of nature, but like you, I'd like to live in a place where I know, always, what to expect.