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.

A Snake in the Bush is Worth Two Shorts in the Hand?

For those who are uninitiated, bush parties are the epitome of redneck partying. Basically a get together for teenagers in the woods, they’re a haven for under-aged drinking and terrible life choices. Naturally, I was considered too much of a loser to ever be invited, so I lack many stories about what it’s like to get blackout drunk with my lead-laden teenage peers.

However, I do have one story.

Somehow, someone was foolish enough to let me know that there was a bush party, happening in Rossland, the town adjacent to mine. It was 15 minutes away, so I hopped on the bus and showed up in Rossland, hoping to finally experience these legendary outdoor parties.

Thing is, the police were also part of the MSN messenger group chat I was on, and put the kibosh on that pretty quickly.

So what were nearly a hundred bored, wayward, and definitely intoxicated teenagers to do?

Apparently, the solution to having the party cancelled, was to create one… in the town square.

By the time I arrived, the Rossland town center was awash in alcohol and surging hormones. The whole place was rife with belligerent teenagers, and they were getting rowdier by the second. Somewhere in there, I lost sight of my friends and saw some somewhat familiar faces. Upon saying hello, I was greeted by a very drunken boy who handed me what was probably a very harassed garter snake.

Okay, so half an hour into the party, I was handed a reptile. Cool, fine. I guess this is what the popular kids do.

So while wandering and witnessing the cops haul away one vomiting teenager after another, I link up with some random dudes who were purported to be the rough kids. We wandered off to one unsuccessful bush party, after another, to no avail; the cops were really on their A-game that night.

Bored and stranded with nowhere to go, I ended up crashing at their place. By ‘their place’, I mean someone’s porn-filled shed. With five snoring teenage boys.

I didn’t sleep a damn wink that night.

Around five AM, I decided that I had to get some shut-eye somewhere more familiar; so at dawn, there was a very disheveled, probably still-drunk 15 year old girl groggily weaving her way to her best friend’s H’s house in a town known for its healthy population of brown bears and feral dog packs.

Oh, did I mention I was also not wearing my own pants?

Somewhere around the night, I slipped and fell into mud. A kid, probably the owner of the porn shed, was kind enough to lend me his way-too-large board shorts.

What a sight I must have been.

Anyways, this muddy, drunk girl dodging curious bears did safely make her way across town and arrived at the door of her best friend’s house. However, I realised it was quite early in the morning, and it would be rather rude to ring the doorbell. So what did I do?

I proceeded to break into her basement, where she lived.

My childhood friends are saints. Not many would be able to tolerate their smelly and inebriated best friend sneaking into their room, crawling into bed with them without warning, muttering something about a shed and garter snakes. H simply muttered some noise of assent, and we snoozed until later afternoon.

What are best friends for, right?

Sometime upon waking up, I managed to backtrack my way to this stranger’s house. I didn’t know his name, but I somehow was able to recover my pants.

The rest of this tale was pretty normal., I watched these boys do an inordinate amount of drugs – I didn’t partake, for the record, and I realised I had no cash to get home. Instead of calling my mother like a normal person, I decided to hitch a ride home, competing with this very frustrated homeless man who also was trying to find a lift, beside me.

I managed to find a nice fella on a motorcycle who gave me my first bike ride, down the mountain highway. It was absolutely terrifying, although the man was an extremely safe rider.

By the time I got home, I figured bush parties were a little overrated.

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.