Inspired by these essays, I decided to unveil a project that I had hoped would be done in time for this infamous/auspicious anniversary. As it turns out, I haven't gotten very far with the project, but I thought it fitting to release the first installment today.
A few years ago, while snooping around my wife's family's house, I found a dusty old diary that turned out to be my mother-in-law's account of the family's flight from Vietnam in 1975. My wife was two and a half years old at the time, and her little sister was an infant. Her uncle and grandfather were also on this journey. Unbeknown to my wife or her mom, I enlisted the help of Le Pham of Dragon Momma to translate. I will let the results speak for themselves:
OMFG!! I am so effing tired! I was just on the longest, most horrendous flight of my life! (Well, I've never actually been on a plane before LOL, but still...) How hard would it have been to put a diaper changing table on a C-130??? WTF, PEOPLE??? And those seats are worse than the little stools at the sidewalk cafes in Saigon. I don't see how those fat-ass Americans can even fit on them ;)
Anyways, Toddlerette and Babygirl decided they would both fuss through the whole eight-hour flight, after they had been so good while we waited at the airbase for two days *sigh*. Oh, and then Toddlerette decides to barf into the bag that contains all of our worldly possessions *double sigh*. (Did I mention that I'm fleeing for my life from the only place I've ever lived and leaving behind everything and everyone I've ever known for a place where I don't speak the language and the people and culture are terrifying to me and we have no money and no idea what we will do when we get there and we have two babies and my father-in-law to take care of?)
And Dearest Hubby wasn't much help either. He and his father and brother were talking boring politics and arguing during the whole flight:
"The Americans turned their backs on us!"
"We'll never see our homes again!"
"This will never stand...the resistance will rise up and defeat the communists!"
"What will happen when we get to America?"
"What about all our relatives who can't get out?"
"Only God can help us..."
HEY! DO YOU THINK GOD COULD HOLD ONE OF THESE KIDS OR MAYBE CHANGE A DIAPER??? Seriously, y'all ! It was like me and the kiddos weren't even there. At least Dearest Hubby has his relatives with him, unlike me who will probably never get to see my family again :( The least he could do is change a freaking diaper for once.
So here we are at this God-forsaken processing station in Guam (???!!!). All I know is that there are a bazillion other refugees here fighting for water and C-rations that I am about to PUNCH IN THE THROAT if they don't shut up.
Gotta go! I just saw a shady spot on the tarmac where I might be able to curl up with the kids and get a little nap. More later.
Naturally, due to egocentrism, I'm often struck by how my life would have been different had things worked out better for our side back in '75. The major implications are that I wouldn't have met my wife, and the first mixed-race female twin consecutive presidents would never have been born. (Of course, our meeting, like anyone's, could have been thwarted by the alteration of any number of serendipitous details like college class schedules or a delay in the eradication of my mullet; but it's more fun to imagine myself as a participant in world history.) Other than that, my life would have been pretty much the same.
But my wife's life would have been completely different. We were reminded of this when we traveled to Vietnam a few years ago and met up with some of my wife's relatives, and indeed whenever we met any women of her age there. These women had led hard, sometimes tragic lives.
But who's to say what opportunities my wife would have had growing up in Vietnam if the forces of free-market democracy had prevailed? I think it's a safe bet, though, that she would not have ended up as a doctor in Southern California with beautiful Wasian babies and the dashing piece of arm-candy she calls her husband. That's why even though many Vietnamese-Americans recognize April 30th as "Deep Resentment Day," I can't bring myself to be completely resentful.