How Are You and How Were You

–My Parents and My Parents

Thirty years ago, my parents get married, because in about 5 month, their daughter, me, is coming to the world. Getting pregnant before marriage, my parents are hippies in the 80s’ China.

When my parents meet, my mom is an actress for a type of traditional Chinese opera, called Yue Ju. She tours in the region of her hometown with a local troupe. And my dad, after several years of trying to enter the university, he finally gives up and opens a tailor shop. When they get married, my mom quits her actress job and becomes a tailor as my dad. I’m glad being an actress for a traditional local opera isn’t a career my mom is pursuing, otherwise, this can be a sad story. Yes, I never hear her singing or playing any instrument. I believe the only reason for her to be an actress is that she is selected to be one, as she is good looking.

In the picture, my dad in his early 20s is sitting on a sawing machine against the open window in their tailor shop. Not long after that, he goes on a trip with his friends to the north of China, seeking opportunities to provide the family with a better life. During that time, my mom and the 3-year-old me, we become best friends. The two of us stay in the tailor shop. In the summer, we often go and visit an old couple living across a small pond, right behind a clump of bamboo; in the misty spring rain, we go to the field near a river and search for the right herbs for hours to save our dying little chick; when it snows in the winter, we tie a small piece of stone to a wood stick and dip it to the snow—we call this game snow fishing, I can go snow fishing forever.

After about a year, my dad settles in a city in Inner Mongolia. After a short while, my mom and I take a train for about three days and join him. That is the story about my parents when they were in their early 20s, and I’m glad I am involved.