“While all art is for the creator a means of self-expression, it is only the extent to which it reveals what is experienced that is becomes art.”
The book: A Dream of Passion by Lee Strasberg
My kindergarten teacher, Ms. Kim, I believe that was her name, donated her velvety-brown couch for our first apartment in Plano, Texas. I remember the green-painted wood panels, and even have splotches of memories of my dad and uncle carrying it through the door. Our first piece of real furniture!
Then there was the rusted blue Nissan Station wagon my dad bought us as our first car. I think one of the doors had a lighter shade of blue than the rest.
Oh, yes, and the garment factory my mother operated from our garage in our first house in Garland. She had yards and yards of fabric piled into that converted garage, two singer sewing machines, and then, more shoulder pads than I could conceive. She worked twelve hours a day, my mother, emerging from her factory only to cook us bún, phở, hủ tiếu, and bánh canh.
I’ve been thinking about my mother a lot lately. There have been months in our occasionally estranged relationship when we’d go months without communicating. Not intentionally, of course, but because we’re both busy. My mom’s a workaholic, and so am I. Her relationships have subsequently been secondary, and so have mine. I got that from her. I’m not saying that in a negative manner. There’s potential for it to be a vice, if I let it be. Sometimes, with her, I have let it get too far.
But we’ve been trying really hard, my mother and I, to overcome our forgetfulness to maintain relationships. I originally wrote this entry over a month ago. But just this past Sunday, she uncharacteristically called me on the phone out of the blue, and I uncharacteristically answered within two rings.
And we had the best conversation. She asked me about school. I told her I am doing a half marathon. I asked about my aunt. She told me about family stuff. I sent her pictures of Vietnamese food that I cooked. She gave me cooking tips, so now I can make the best bun rieu cua ever. And then she told me about what she’s going through right now. So I reminded her that she’s a strong woman. The strongest, actually. And when you’re a strong woman, people are not going to understand. People are going to blame you for things, because they are not strong themselves. Then I told her that I am a strong woman because she is one. So, finally, we hung up the phone promising to call each other more often.
I know this entry didn’t contain a singular memory; I just really wanted to write about my mom because damn, I miss her.
End, Memory Eight.
Next week: ‘Mountains Beyond Mountains’ by Tracy Kidder