Three Three Zero

I think one of the things I love the most about O is the way he opens himself to trying Chinese foods.

On the weekend, we went to Yum Cha with some of my friends and he not only ate and enjoyed all the food we got, but also was keen and ready to try the more different food – tripe, intestines, chicken feet. We didn’t get any of those, but I love that he’s willing and wanting to give it a go.

The shame and embarrassment I felt/ still feel sometimes about my culture is heavily felt when it comes to food. I have early memories of going to school with rice or chicken or a hard boiled egg in my lunch box and developing resentment for it setting me apart from the other kids. I wished that my parents cooked food like my friends’ parents did – roasts, pies, pastas. Chinese food is so fragrant, there’s no way to hide it away. “What’s that smell?” was a common question I heard when it came to food. I never invited friends over for dinner because I was afraid of what they would think about the food my parents cooked.

Food is so important. It’s like a binding ingredient for people. Food shared is life shared.

The fact that O loves Chinese food and wants to try the “weird” stuff that other people scrunch their nose at, is a real relief. I always took it personally when people didn’t like aspects of Chinese culture and saw it as them not liking aspects of me. But with O, the way that he comes to understand Chinese food and culture, makes me feel so accepted as I am. It makes me love him even more.

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Four

My mum emailed me today, asking me how I was doing. This is the second check in email this week, in addition to one text and one phone call. And it’s only Wednesday.

I know it’s not a crazy amount of check ins, that she’s doing this┬ábecause she cares, because her and dad know that I haven’t been myself post the break up and they’re concerned. Still, it feels suffocating.

Every now and then, third culture stuff catches up with me and I suddenly feel very disconnected from my Chinese family, and I want distance from them. I harbour a lot of resentment from having to be the English speaker and translator for my family, having my parents rely on me to be their mouthpiece and bridge between cultures, having being pulled into the adult world of admin and sacrificing my childhood in the process. I wish I lived in another city so I wouldn’t feel obligated to see my family every week. But I don’t, I live a 30 minute drive from my parents and if I don’t see them every week I feel guilty for it. I just can’t win. Chinese culture is intensely family centred and I feel trapped by that.

So I know that my feelings towards mum checking in aren’t rational, and aren’t to do with the fact that she’s checking in (because that is a nice thing to do) but I’m unable to separate this, and her, from my own complex around my Chinese culture. Even though the gesture comes from a place of love, it compounds the smothering I already feel and I think I just need some space for a while.