|Day 3: A letter to my parents
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
Dear Maman & Dada,*
I’m not sure you know how grateful I am to you. I try to tell you now and then, but I’m never certain it comes across. You always made a point of not helping me to make choices. You told me that you would be pleased with my decisions as long as they made me happy.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the strength and restraint it must have taken you never to lecture me about my mistakes, never to tell me what you thought I ought to do, never to reproach me for neglect. How brave have you had to be to trust me? I can only imagine. I would hope it’s become easier as I’ve gained the occasional scrap of wisdom here and there.
You’ve had to exercise a lot of courage, being a mixed-race couple at a time when many states still had anti-miscegenation laws on their books. You managed to shield me from discrimination and negative reactions to you and to me, except for one incident that I can remember clearly on a road trip we took when I was seven. We were attempting to pass back into the US from Canada through Detroit. The border officials pulled over our car and grilled you, Dad, for what seemed like hours to me, huddled in the back seat with our cat. It was probably only twenty minutes and they did let us through, but you were absolutely furious. I asked what was wrong, and Mom explained that they had been asking to see your birth certificate, which is not an identity document that most people carry around. You had made the fatal mistake of DWB (Driving While Brown). Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized a lot of people can’t tell the Filipinos from the Mexicans, so that didn’t help either. From what I could gather, eventually you managed to convince the border officials that you were a naturalized American despite not having your passport with you.
Pardon my tangent. My point is, I have an enormous amount of respect as well as love for you. I’m so happy you’re coming to visit me in England. I hope you’re proud of me.
* Yes, I still address them with the monikers I made up when I was five. Want to make something of it? </pugnacious lower lip>