The Dirty Thirties

(//_-) <– this is my EMOticon.

I turned 30, and while everything was AWESOME, after the high and happy feelings… the other day, I felt like this… It’s rare for me, and I can’t remember the last time it has actually happened. But one thing I know is true: in the middle of the night, I became homesick for my family. Celebrating my 30th was just something I had always imagined I’d be doing with my mom and my sisters. And when all was said and done, I had this pang of guilt and sadness.

I know we all have families. Families that we no doubt love with all our hearts. But I’m convinced that there are no sisters on this planet that have the bond my sisters and I have with each other. A bond driven by my mother, through life and circumstance.  There is a certain sister shaped hole in my heart. No matter where I am, or how old I get, when I’m away from them, I feel the emptiness. It’s not crippling, it doesn’t hurt or change my ability to breathe, but every once in a while, I just don’t feel whole. Being across the ocean can make it really hard. This blog is mostly about them, and not much about Japan, so if you want to skip on over it, it’s totally cool.

I try to live my life in a way that echoes what I really believe; time should not be wasted worrying, complaining or being angry, opportunities taken for granted, or missing chances to enrich our mind and bodies. So, when I feel like complaining about my ‘boring’ job, I remember that one day when I’m old and withered  I’ll KILL for a job that pays me good money while I sit at a desk. That also means not wasting time somewhere other than where I want to be. My home is where my love is. Anything else I do beyond that is just an extra perk. My love is Kyle, my love is my sisters and my mom. I don’t love them any more than my brother or my dad, I just reeeeeally love them. We’ve been through it all together. So, how do you split the time between the two? It’s incredibly difficult, and something that I’m sure will take me a lifetime to figure out.

Mom, 23 with 3 babies and the best provider a kid could ever want. Star, three years older and so much smarter than me. April, two years younger and so much stronger than me. Me, right in the middle and just as close to all of them.  I wish I could explain to you how much my mom and sisters mean to me. But I’m just not that good a writer.

To explain the love for my mom and sisters, requires the explanation of my Dad too.

Dad. Super likable, great sense of humor, immigrant from Vietnam during the war, spoiled and youngest of 9.  I grew up with a dad who spent the majority of my childhood and teens chasing after booze, casinos, and drugs. After the divorce, he  lingered just a little but not enough. Just a little to keep me thinking he’d show up to things he promised, and not enough to prove to me that a promise was anything more than a lie. I remember things. Even as a little kid. They aren’t scars, and I don’t share for pity. I just remember them being a reality. Drunken screaming, holes in the walls, paraphernalia, losing a house, being forgotten at places, power being shut off, no food, sorrow, regret, remorse, and again. But there was always love.  Through all that,  he (with my mom) DID teach me, above all other things, to love myself for who I was. I remember that much. Him and mom always telling me not to let other people define me or give me limits. Little did I know that I’d spend my life learning how not to let him define me too.

Mom. The strongest woman I have ever known in my life, and the only hero I ever had. A single mom with three young very stubborn and outspoken daughters; just the way she taught us to be. To this day, I have no idea how she kept my sisters and I involved in sports teams and dance, and was there, at almost every single game or performance we had. So, while my dad may have missed all of them, she made sure we knew they were important. She also encouraged us to think for ourselves, question everything, and be honest and open. I was never afraid to talk to her about sex (although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t avoid it) if she asked me about it, or anything else for that matter. If I had a question of something really “adult-like” in manner as a child, she would reply with, “Well what do YOU think it is?” and tell me what she felt was appropriate at the time. Often, before going on plane trips, she would ask me (i remember being around 7) OK, if your dad and me die on this trip, which aunt and uncle would you want to live with? She would put me in my place if I said mean things about someone else, “How would you feel if someone said that about you?” And she was scary as hell when we were bad, and always made sure we understood the sequence of events that got us there. If she ever got to the count of “3” she had the harshest follow-through. Even when she really didn’t want to punish us, and you could see it in her face, she would follow-through because, “I said I would if I got to three.” Weird how three is my favorite number. Speaking of three, here are the three most important lessons she taught me as a daughter:

  1. Be confident in who you are, exactly how you are. You are special, and if anyone tells you different, they are wrong. You can do anything a boy can do.
  2. Love the lonely people. Everyone wants to be loved, you should always look for the people who are being left out, they need friends too.
  3. Always forgive your family, they could die in an hour.

Star. She’s always inspired me to follow my dreams, and always told me she was proud of the things I was doing and will do with my life. Caring, thoughtful, intelligent, and loving. I remember so many times explaining to my friends that my older sister was the nicest and smartest person I had ever met. She has this memory, where you can just say a phone number once and she’ll remember it. It’s totally insane. She always knew how to make me feel important by taking the time to pick out JUST the right gifts for me when I was little. I knew she was always thinking of me, because she would often come home with things she bought for me or something she thought I’d like. Even when I was in college she would take the time to write me letters and send them in the mail. I still have this letter she sent that was made to look like a message in a bottle:) I still think it’s one of the coolest I’ve ever gotten. She was a part of this special program in elementary school, for super smart kids, and I knew I would never make it in. I think it was good for me. It taught me to be humble and to look up to my sister. I looked to her for everything as a young kid. Advice, guidance, a pillow. Everything. I took turns sharing a bedroom with her and April, it changed a few times in my life. But, when we shared a room, and the lights were out, we would often say, “Good night, I love you” “I love you too…” “…” “Oh by the way!” and talk until 4AM. The exhaustion the next day would be worth every second. She got me into music, movies, and live concerts. My life would never be the same. She was the first best friend I’d ever had.

April. She looks like me, sounds like me, and shares a brain with me. Sometimes this last part is true. In fact, the other night, during my homesick EMOness, she sent me a text (my phone was in the other room) around the same time I was crying to Kyle, that said something along the lines of, “Sometimes I’m mad at you for leaving me.” Simply because she was feeling bummed out that I was gone. We’ve done everything together since we were little. Even playing soccer, she would play 2 age groups up and we’d play together. She was a forward and I was a defender. A few times we were even on the same team. Together, we were unstoppable. She is a feisty, loyal, driven woman who loves her friends and hates her enemies. She’ll tell  you like it is without the fluff. But she’ll help anyone who really needs it. She is like an ice queen with a very soft and loving heart. I have never met any other person who makes a decision and doesn’t stop until she’s accomplished it. She is a big dreamer. Not in that idealistic way, where you roll your eyes and say “Yeah right.” But in that way where you look at her and silently shake your head, thinking to yourself, “By God! She’s going to make this happen!” I believe in everything she does, and so does she. She was 26, with two babies and the proud owner of a day spa. She’d gone through a really rough patch in her life shortly after that, but never stopped fighting, never stopped climbing. When I look at her life, I am reminded that I really can accomplish anything. I can trust her with everything, she’s my best friend.

Love. I could write on forever. But love is the thing that has kept my whole world from falling apart. My sisters have kept my head on straight and totally sane. Growing up in a mixed-race family, and going to school in upper class white America was not a cake walk for me to say the least. My high school was like the movie Mean Girls. No joke. walking around the halls felt so much like that movie. I never got involved in the drama because I didn’t have time for it. I never let anyone very close, and no one ever really knew me. I was busy trying to keep a job, my grades up, and my mother proud of my physical ability. All while being surrounded by a sea of faces whose lives were perfect. New cars, new clothes, kids who traveled on PLANES to vacation spots, perfect hair, entitlement, beautiful faces, the right boyfriend/girlfriend. I never wanted all that. I just wanted to go home and be with Star and April. I wanted to watch movies with them and go to a restaurant. I wanted to hangout and play games with them. I wanted to talk to them. I didn’t need, or want anyone else really. Of course, there were a few friends who seeped into our lives whom I still dearly love. But at the end of the day, the only ones that really really mattered, whoever really understood me, were and are Star and April. Even still, whenever we make plans to do stuff with our friends, the first people on the group text is us, the Truong sisters. I will never need to explain my ‘inner thoughts’ or ‘reasons behind’ anything I say, because they just know. They already know.

I love you Japan, but man do I miss you guys! I love you guys, and thanks Mom for poppin’ out some pretty rad kids.

ToriMom

Mom and Me.

Toristar

Star and Me.

ToriApril

April and me.

The Truong Ladies.

The Truong Ladies.

(I want everyone to know I’ve had permission from the fambam to share my stories)

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