I’ve only gotten three facials in my life, and I’ve only paid for one. That “one” was $5 (Thanks, Dubya!), and one of the free ones was for a friend’s esthetician license (Thanks, Dubya!). My latest was on Saturday, during my first trip into my dad’s house with his wife. Obviously the trip was a milestone in sealing the whole modern family deal. I don’t want to go into too much personal detail here – I’ll save that for the LiveJournal! Har. – but I think there’s a lot of worthwhile introspection to take place here.
I’ve looked into “us kids” and our diasporic upbringing a number of times, but was originally more immediately fascinated by the interracial relationships my sister, brother, and I have “gravitated” toward. This time, my mind’s been wandering around my dad’s wife: how I don’t consider her my stepmom, how I think she’s really sweet,…and how life would have been if she was my mom and not my mother (who I love – This is not an “I don’t love my family” post.).
All in the family.
The thing is us kids, my mom, and my dad all represent different stages of acculturation. My brother, sister, and I are total ABCs. Americans born Chinese, we don’t speak Mandarin fluently and for us sisters, we’re in committed interracial relationships. My mother was an immigrant hippie. She arrived in the U.S. as a child during a ban on Asian immigration. Nowadays, one could say she has re-embraced her Chinese culture and teaches taichi every morning – something she didn’t start until a few years ago and, incidentally, where her Mandarin has improved. My dad also came to the U.S. during the Asian immigration ban, but came to pursue college and a career. In so many words, my dad is a FOB.
My dad’s family, because they came to the U.S. at least a decade later than my mother’s family did, are much more rooted in our Chinese origins. They are the “most traditionally Chinese” on an acculturation spectrum. They have more plentiful and stronger connections to family and friends in China, whereas I essentially have none.
New wife in town.
My dad’s wife is an esthetician running her business out of their house. My dad’s wife is a FOB. My dad and her met in church, a place where my sister, brother, and I wouldn’t meet anyone because we aren’t religious. After she discussed my skin ailments with me (“Oh, lots of pimple.” It’s true. Cry.) and starting applying a face mask, I fought off sleep, thinking about what a different type of people my father and his wife are in comparison to me.
Without passing any judgments, it’s just funny-interesting realizing that my dad’s wife is the Chinese immigrant practicing skin treatments from her renovated San Jose garage. While I carry on in my American Asian world, the other “extreme” reminds me of how just a few decades of residency and disparity in age can make such a difference.