1: America bound

Nine months after I was born in small town China, six months after receiving the smallpox vaccination that would leave my left shoulder with a bullet sized scar, a patchy circle that is the Asian Fob scarlet letter, I was left in grandparental care as my parents flew to east coast America to become STEM graduate students.

Thus I was raised in those early years by both sets of grandparents. I have always felt the deepest and easiest bond with Dad’s Dad, though of course I love them all. And three years later, I was reunited with my parents in winter Philly. There is an old colored photo of my China sendoff: carried in the arms of Dad’s older sister, surrounded by a big group of relatives and friends outside the airport terminal. I’m wearing a child’s sailor outfit and a baby resting bitch face. It is very cold outside as evidenced by the sea of red cheeks and the vapor trails of exhaled breathe. There are many faces gathered, some small, some tall, some young, mostly old, all clothed in puffy jackets of dusty blue and faded black. Familiar faces all, in the way you just know a face, but I can’t tell you any of their names or how to properly address them. And I haven’t seen most of them since I left.


This is one in a series of personal reflections. I’m writing them in roughly chronological order, starting with childhood, and hope to arrive at the present day. Click here to see what’s been published. Thanks!

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.