Thirty eight years ago, I was an unwilling beneficiary of my father’s coveted dream of going to America. To be specifically chosen to fulfill that dream became a life long battle I persistently opposed in silence. In the end fate and providence worked in his favor. I only wished he had lived long enough to see his dream come true.
It’s the winter of 2011 my fourth year in Queens, New York, a melting pot of different culture. Were it not written on my plane ticket, New York USA, I thought I had landed in another Asian country. Listening to everyday weather assured me that indeed I am where I should be. Medium rise residential building, from the outside looks like rundown hotel occupying half a block down a street, walls built and lined with pale red bricks some spots missing. It’s empty entrance lounges encased in neat glass, unlike in hotels, there is no chairs to sit down or relax, residents should go right to their apartments.
Coming out of the building where I lived, I watched the hemline of my down met the knee high black boots I had wore dug slowly deeper into the snow. Mountains of snow built overnight, sliced, swished and pushed further on the sidewalk by the transportation department early that morning. Though my ribs were shaking, I convinced myself to enjoy the cold and freezing weather and instead be reminded of how I had used to hate the hot and humid high 90’s from the country where I came from. And now the three blocks walk to the bus stop should give me enough warmth I needed.
Once inside the bus, after swiping the metro card, I sat by the window, entertained myself at somersaulting pedestrians avoiding snow. As the bus turned away from downtown Main Street onto the residential areas, I was confined to watching the snow: steadily dropping, landing on top of roofs, trees, leaves and sidewalks, blanketing the earth as far as my eyes could see. Coming from a tropical country, seeing and touching snow was a symbolic achievement of a goal, I had sent to family back home a proof: a picture of me, bundled up standing and playing snowballs under drizzling snow. Intended for my father to see, through me, at least his dream came true.