Monday, June 7, 2010

My writing desk

My writing desk, originally uploaded by Lost in Scotland.
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On my writing desk, a willowy ballerina is instantaneously frozen in mid-twirl. She is a gift from you, and I want you to know that she occupies a prime spot, right where I can see her as I type up everything from academic essays to impromptu poems. Every time that I see her, it is you that I remember.

You may not remember me, for you have countless other grandchildren, your real grandchildren, who are the offsprings of your blood daughters. Me? I am that girl down the block, the Chinese girl with her Chinese brother who used to come to your pool on the hottest days of summer, sharing in your American fun. If I trace back my family tree, I will definitely not unearth you as any of my relations, but when I am in America, when my connections to my motherland are nothing more than a sheer strand, it is to your laps that I would run, and there, in my second home, I know that I will be loved.

That "Ballerina Incident," as I remember it, is still fresh in my mind. On a Christmas Eve morning long ago, my brother, morn and I were out for a stroll when we happened to come across the two of you in your car. You insisted that Mr. Santa Claus was becoming an old and forgetful man and had accidentally left behind gifts for my brother and me at your house. Well, my little squinty eyes widened at the prospect of more gifts. My colorful imagination was already creating pictures of a perfect plastic pink Barbie complete with her perfect plastic pink convertible. It was what I wanted every year since I discovered the svelte blonde existed. My mother, in correct Chinese tradition, refused a total of three times before finally accepting.

So we found ourselves sitting on your cabbage rose couch, perched a bit uncomfortably, but excited all the same. Inside the box you handed me, nestled in so much bubble wrap that she must be suffocating, I saw my ballerina. Her frothy strawberry tulle and porcelain blush cheeks incarnated everything that I wanted to become: graceful, talented and downright gorgeous. I leaped into your lap and nestled myself into that familiar crook of your arm, blissfully content for the moment.

How was I to know that this was the last Christmas I would have with either of you? One day, I was attempting to slide down your pool slide into the waiting dark waters and scrambling back out to give you a slippery wet embrace and gulp down some fresh lemonade. The next, I am stuffed into an ill-fitting black dress, told to keep silent and look sad, and standing awkwardly in the living room. I tugged on my mom's dress and pleaded to return home, to forget this unusual scene, to come back tomorrow and scarf down cookies in the kitchen. When we finally left, your door was shut to me forever.

As for the ballerina, she was a victim of my overzealous affection. Too bad dainty little porcelain figurines are not meant for action like their modern day plastic counterparts are. In the midst of one of her grand jetes (leaps), she came crashing back down to earth, and lo and behold, her gracefully held arm chipped off. Using my inchoate medical skills, I tried everything I could think of to get that arm back on, but it was all for naught. I finally resigned myself to the marred beauty. I placed her on my desk, carefully turning her at such an angle so that her empty shoulder is out of sight and let her collect dust.

Tomorrow, I will fulfill a girlhood dream and buy myself one of those Barbie dolls. I will stare into her eyes, realize my mistake, laugh, and move on. Tomorrow, I will turn ballerina around so that she can be seen for who she really is, without trying to hide any of her flaws. Tomorrow, I will come into my own, still fitting in no category, but recognizing myself for who I am. Thank you, thank you, for giving a girl of jade the wings of an eagle.

Stars and stripes forever,

Your Amerasian granddaughter

--Bonnie Lei, high school student, California.

Bonnie adds: "My piece deals with my heritage and how I have come to terms with living in a new world. I am very fortunate to be exposed to a variety of different cultures: fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese, learning Spanish, visiting Brazil as part of a science research expedition, and establishing the connection to a sister school in Nepal. In Dear Grandma, I have explored the relationship I had with my neighbors and how I became more 'Americanized' while still retaining nay culture that I avidly shared with them."

Source Citation
Lei, Bonnie. "Dear Grandma and Grandpa America." Skipping Stones May-Aug. 2010: 18. General OneFile. Web. 7 June 2010.
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