GOLD

By Kalley Huang

she came first after hitchhiking from china to the middle east to africa sometimes under a tarp in the back of a truck sometimes proudly in the front seat and then to france where she lived in a tiny apartment that was cheap because it faced the local garbage dump where she worked first as a waitress until she was tired of being called chinadoll and chink everyday and then in a clothing factory and she worked and worked and worked until her fingers trembled and god knows how she got a visa to america and when she got to the airport she remembered how disappointed her father looked when she quit working in the lab that god knows how he pulled strings for especially during the immediate aftermath of the cultural revolution but parents always sacrifice for their children but she also remembered desiring new but somehow when she arrived in new york almost a day later because tickets with multiple stops were cheaper and minimum wage might have been a thing but she didn’t really know her hard green suitcases weren’t bursting anymore and she just felt tired which wasn’t so new

he came second without the comfort of a twenty hour long economy flight just on a boat under a tarp the entire time until they got to canada and years later he remembered holding his breath when cbp stopped the truck on its way to america and trying to stop the deep trembling fear from showing and they had met in china through a mutual family friend and there was thankfully enough chemistry to warrant spending the rest of their lives together and when they declared their informal marriage her father breathed a sigh of relief because she was 22 and getting old but it wasn’t until america that they officially married and in their marriage photos that she thumbed through occasionally they were both as pale as the porcelain they couldn’t afford because he had stopped selling badly made counterfeit bags in the sunny streets of chinatown and instead they both worked in clothing factories with no windows where minimum wage was definitely a thing but under the table without worrying about taxes was easier and safer because they were undocumented and their status screamed like an alarm every time they saw a police officer who could’ve been an ice officer and every time they heard the doorbell ring for the second floor of his mother’s house not the apartment for two she pictured in her head on her way to america

and whenever she thinks about the second floor she cries because she remembers the constant noise and the invasive smell of oil no matter how much she cleaned and she remembers working until she had no energy to tremble and she remembers the humiliation of paying for their honeymoon because his mother gave them only $1000 to celebrate their marriage in florida because his mother only cared about money and when she thumbs through their honeymoon photos she sees an awkward young couple trying to be happy because americans had honeymoons and then she remembers taking a bus that had ten too many passengers and seeing a street sign she couldn’t quite read and she remembers laughing and smiling and sunshine when they got off at that street and she remembers slowly writing the name of the street sign where it said first name on their first child’s birth certificate and her own last name where it said last name which was neither a chinese tradition nor an american one but she did not care this child was born in a land of jin meng xiang

and how strange to be the child of immigrants who have neither a high school nor a college education to be the child of immigrants who only tell their stories when they are drunk to be the child of immigrants who sacrificed so much to just be disappointed to be the child of immigrants born in a land of golden dreams