Hello Mother, Hello Father, Here I am, at Camp Grenada.

Like any good Chinese girl, there’s a great deal of ambivalence about my relationship with my parents. They’ve given me everything, and have taken away nearly the same; there’s no way I could repay them for their sacrifice, but the damage they’ve left me, has also been immeasurable in its cost.

I just don’t know how to feel about them.

Honestly, it feels like I barely know them; as people, they’ve been this peripheral presence in my life most of the time, and when they were in full focus, those experiences were something I’d rather forget. As parents, they were a mixture of “trying their best” and “how did you screw this up so badly?”

I hated them, I loved them. I feared them, and never respected them as parents.

Yet when I look at them, I see myself in them.

I see my mother’s smile, my father’s humour, and both of their relentless tenacity. As I grow, I find myself more interested in learning about who they were before, in order to get an idea as to who they are now.

I want to paint in the rest of the portrait, of these two individuals who met, fell in love, raised a child and proceeded to screw her up by trying to do the Right Thing the whole time. However, with each pass of the brush, they become increasingly layered and considerably more difficult for me to hold in my mind. They weren’t always the neglectful, abusive tyrants of my past, and they were more than the adorably aggravating, harmless parents of my present.

Somewhere, sometime, they were hopeful young lovers, heads filled with dreams of a new life in Canada.

Somewhere, sometime, everything went wrong.

The reason why I am in so much pain, is that I feel like I was that something.

How I Met Your Mother’s Left Hook

Image credit:The Crimson Shoe at Deviantart

Small, unsuspecting and quaintly beautiful, it sits on the vanity dresser of my parent’s bedroom. While only the size of a mandarin orange and filled with colourful swirls within, what’s most noteworthy is its weight – I am forever surprised by its heft, every time I pick it up. Made of solid glass, it has endured for three decades now, with nothing more than a few surface scratches and a chip missing (made by yours truly)– it is an apt representation of the love of my parents. Created in the white hot heat of youth, it began as any love, passionate, fragile and mutable. As the decades passed, it began to solidify and become this dense, and fortified structure that could withstand all the bumps and falls of life. It would take something catastrophic for that apple to be broken apart.

My parents worked in a communal factory as teenagers, courtesy of Chairman Mao. Apparently my grandparents knew of each other, which may have resulted in their working in the same sector. It appears that my father noticed my mother and she piqued his interest. Unfortunately, his interest was not reciprocated.

Every day while my mother worked, this irritating 18 year old boy would harass her.

Vegetables thrown at her, verbal taunts, what the fuck was his deal?

I guess my dad took lessons of romance from a five year old; this was his unorthodox way of showing interest in this skinny girl who worked down the assembly line from him. This subtle courtship went on for some time, and her patience grew more and more thin with each passing bok choy thrown at her head.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when my dad was doing his daily harassment of my mother, and twisted her arm behind her back. Brimming with pain and anger, she managed to wriggle free enough to turn around and enact her revenge.

CRACK!

My 74-pound, 5-foot-2 mother swung around and cracked my father right in the face.

All of the rest is conjecture, but I imagine he stumbled back with shock.

And then, there was blood.

Turns out my dad’s a bleeder, even when he takes a haymaker from a woman who barely weighs more than a nine year old. So, blood gushing out of his face, my mom realized what a terrible mistake she’s made.

I’d imagine she ran off and cried. She tends to be a bit of a crybaby, and that’s kind of her thing. After she cooled down, she told me that she went to the market and came across a glass apple.

In fact, she came across two.

Turns out my mom is where I get my raging asshole tendencies, and bought two glass apples, one for her crush, and a smaller one for my father. Her apology to him was meant to be an afterthought, a metaphorical shrug, as it were.

It seems that this second-place gift ended up smoothing things over, and then some.

Every time I look at that apple, I’m reminded of how my parents met, as this little glass toy is the lynchpin to that story. Resemblance to my parents is one thing, but nothing else represents the core facets of my personality better than this glass gift; what a beautiful symbol of my father’s childlishness and my mother’s killer left hook.