Monday, May 10, 2010

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

During Mother’s Day brunch, while my family and I were gorging ourselves on the feast that my brother, boyfriend and I had cooked up for the occasion—pasta with butternut squash and kale in a brown butter sauce , a Spanish-style omelet and fluffy ricotta pancakes with lemon curd—I started thinking seriously about my mom—and my dad.

Both of my parents aren’t frequent fliers or travelers in the least bit. Since leaving China in the 1950s as young children, they haven’t set foot outside North America, not even to go back to China or Hong Kong. Growing up, their families didn’t have much money, so the furthest they’d go might be to take a camping trip in the forests near Princeton, N.J. (where my dad grew up), to drive down to Texas (which was just a little south of where my mom grew up in Wichita, Kan.) or to drive up north to Canada (to visit relatives on my mom’s side).

Growing up, the most exotic place we’d traveled to together as a family—grandma included— was to Hawaii, followed by San Francisco, San Diego, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. These weren't exactly faraway places but they still remain, in my memories, as some of the best trips ever.  

The thing is, however, that I don’t think my parents have stayed put by choice. Extenuating circumstances and obligations, including caring for my grandmother (for 22+ years, no less) and helping to put my brother and me through college, would be some of the biggest reasons.

They don’t talk about this much, but I can tell. I can especially see it every time my mom turns on the TV and tunes into her favorite Spanish-speaking shows on Telemundo and Univision in an attempt to keep her Spanish skills intact (strange, I know, but she majored in Spanish in college, hoping to one day work as a U.N. translator and is almost fluent). Or when my mom petitioned my dad to apply for a passport with her a few years back. Or whenever my dad takes the time to print out extremely detailed maps of the airports where I’ll be flying into, just to make sure I don’t get lost and miss any connections (that one really gets to me). They both yearn to travel abroad—but they just haven’t had a chance to.

And here I was, bummed from missing out on a trip to Germany when I’ll be headed to other trips (most likely) in the next few months, anyway. It’s pretty pathetic. Far too often, I forget how fortunate I've been to be able to go to so many places.

So, if there’s just one thing I could wish for this year, I wish that my parents could finally pack their bags and go on a trip somewhere—anywhere (just not within the continental U.S.). Perhaps they could head to Spain, so my mom can finally practice her Spanish, or maybe even to China or Hong Kong, so they can try to piece together what fragments they can still remember from growing up there. Wherever it is, I just hope they get to go and that they get to—finally—fill up those pages in their newly minted passports. (Photo (c) 


  1. I hope you and your brother get to send your parents off to somewhere amazing! My parents just went to Thailand for my dad's work retreat, and they had a lot of fun. My mom couldn't stop talking about it.

    Keep writing more! I went on to your work's website to read more articles, but there's no function that sorts them by editors! Guess I'll just have to read all of them!

  2. Awww, thanks, Gloria! I really hope we can do that! Thailand sounds like it was a blast for your parents!

    Sorry about my work's website ('s a bit confusing. The easiest way to read my articles on that site is to do a keyword search using my name--sorry there's no easier shortcut.

  3. I'm in a similar situation. My parents have not traveled outside of our country since they were married and perhaps even a little beforehand. During my childhood, we didn't travel either.
    I, on the other hand, hope to travel when I can get enough money together and enough time off. I've offered to take my mother somewhere when that happens(especially since my father probably traveled more widely than she did in his youth), but she's refused. I will persist, though. I'm sure if you persist enough, you could convince your parents to get out there, even if it is just for a three day weekend or something of the sort.