Tuesday, January 09, 2007
When I was growing up in Connecticut, I never thought I would one day live in Los Angeles.
California: sitting in the kitchen of my wife's parents' house in Fountain Valley after dinner, without my wife, just down the street from Little Saigon, stopping by after visiting a client's headquarters in Orange County, still in the gray pinstriped suit I had bought at Filene's while working as a law clerk in Hartford, too warm for the Southern California winter, with a slightly loosened tie I had stolen several years ago from the dozens in my father's closet in Glastonbury, trying to figure out how to eat an actual tamarind pod, drinking green tea my wife's parents' friends had brought back from Vietnam, asking if Buddhist nuns in Vietnam also had to shave their heads, explaining that there is nothing really like a priest in Islam, imams being more like rabbis, in a way, forgetting, after explaining my parents' pilgrimage, what the fifth pillar of Islam was (the pillar I forgot was the profession of faith, or Shahadah, which Saddam Hussein was reciting when the trap door was pulled and his neck was broken), listening to the stories of classmates from Vietnam, the brilliant geometry student ("He didn't draw anything on the paper or blackboard. He just read problems like he was reading a story . . .") who went on to become a chief scientist with Procter and Gamble and hold more than two-hundred patents, including the one for Bounce, with Governor Schwarzenegger on the 60-inch television in the other room, delivering his State of the State address in his absurd but real Austrian accent in Sacramento with his crutches to the side of the podium, and driving home listening to a Chinese language lesson on a CD and mispronouncing Mandarin greetings in my Dodge Intrepid on the 405 to the 605 to the 5 to the 2.