You won’t understand this now, but maybe you could. In my mind you’re this brilliant kid who could — if he wanted to — probably learn Malay and have gotten into EM1. But why should you? You’re not Malaysian. You’re Filipino and you’re well aware that you are. Your earliest memories playing out on the school yard is of someone poking your eyes because the couldn’t understand the tagalog you were speaking. But why should he? That boy knew the local language of Arabian, it was you — Filipino kid with your tagalog — who was the foreigner.
You’re going to move to America soon and you’ll be a foreigner again. I know, right? Again. You’ll pretend to like it. It won’t be like you pictured in the movies or like in Home Alone. It doesn’t snow in Los Angeles and where you end up growing up in Torrance is nowhere near as exciting as Singapore. You don’t have to fake the “Yes!” with the super excited look when asked, “So do you like America?” Deep down inside you’re disappointed in Los Angeles’ South Bay region.
You think that you should say you’re grateful to be here and tell people how excited you are because your mom says she’s grateful and excited. She’s not. You can’t possibly understand this and you won’t for a very long time, but your mother at Singapore was paid quite well. What immigrant is able to afford an immigration lawyer right away to square off Visas and get the green card process started?
Again, you’re much too young to understand this. But I don’t know… maybe you do and might understand because you’re actually a lot smarter than you let on. But I think that’s because you had great parents.
How does having good parents equal your ability to keep your feelings under wrap at such a young age? Your mom is going to make $5 an hour as an architect when you guys move. Your dad still has to finish a couple of projects in Singapore and someone has to pay that aforementioned lawyer and it’s not happening with your mom’s $5/hr.
But here’s the crazy part that no will tell you until you get much, much older. They’re not telling you because there’s really no way you could understand the significance of your mother making $5/hr. In your mind, your family could probably live off the savings you have in your bank.
(Truth be told, you probably do have more money in the bank that I currently do. It’s this skill you’re quite good at that for whatever reason gets lost by the time you get to me).
Your mom is an architect and a damn good one too and she was making much more than that — a lot more — while working in Singapore. So why are your parents being good equal you hiding your emotions at a young age? This is one of two times you’ll see your mom cry. She’s crying because the her paycheck bounced. What company hires a professional of your mother’s statute only to pay her $5 because she’s an immigrant then not even have the necessary funds to pay her under minimum wage check? Who wouldn’t cry?
Why should she leave her position in Singapore? She was happy there. Her mother and sister were living with you guys and you had this gorgeous apartment. You were doing relatively well. Why move?
If I’m honest, I don’t know why they moved. I’ve asked them and they said it was for you and your sister’s future. But I was doing quite well in Singapore, so I think that’s just something they tell me.
I don’t know why mom agreed to move to America as uncertain as it was. We were only here for a vacation and then the next thing you know, they decide that you’re staying here.
You’re going to get real good and hiding your feelings because your parents — to the best of their ability — hid a lot from you and your sister so you and your sister remain as innocent as possible. If you’ve skimmed the entire beginning and only got down here, just remember a few things ya?
1). It’s okay to tell people you’re from Singapore. Kids may or not make fun of you. I guess I’ll never know because I told them I was from San Francisco. I’ve been to San Francisco and it’s cool — Singapore is better.
2). Don’t make fun of other kids so you can look cool in front of the other cool kids. I know that this is the only thing you’ll be concerned about, but you’re quite cool already. There’s no need to try to be “cooler” than you already are, especially when it means you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings.
3). It’s very much okay to like music and the piano. Learn to love it and learn to play it much earlier than I did. It’s going to be your lifeline when you get older.
4). You’re going to think a lot of kids here are stupid. Once again… be nice and keep that to yourself ok? Shaming others is frowned upon in America.
5). No. That’s not the girl you’re going to marry. But don’t worry, they’ll start noticing you really soon also. For now, just enjoy the unlimited time you have to play your Playstation. When they start to notice you can’t play as much.
6). Your prototype for Virtual Reality video games comes true. You didn’t invent it, but man if only you had some money to start Zephyr Industries. (Pretty good company name… you’ll think of cool names in your spare time).
7). Last thing.
Speaking of names. Remember it’s D A N M I C H A E L. Don’t be ashamed of it. It’s who you are and you will never meet another person with your name. You’re the only one as far as I know.