Going Northwest by Southwest (or my trip with my sister)

emperor.jpgI just could not avoid using this title. Well, going to Portland, Oregon using Southwest airlines. The weekend was an interesting one. Let’s see, I left Oakland, California to Portland, Oregon with my sister and my niece on a Friday evening. This is the first time that I have travelled with my sister by plane. She and I are 20 years apart in age. So, while she remembers me well during my babyhood, I don’t know much of her because she was already an adult when I was growing up.

My sister and I have an interesting relationship. Let’s say that it is a hotchpotch of raw emotions dealing with a traditional Chinese family in a tumultuous period of history. The reason why there is such an age gap between her and I was because of the Second World War. Dad was trying to make a living in a South American country while mom and sis were avoiding imperial Japanese soldiers in southern China. I was the product of my parents’ reunification after the war. Given that I was the last chance for a male offspring, it is no wonder that I became the prototype for Chairman Mao’s little emperor experiment.

I always wonder (and still do) why China is such a male-oriented society. Not that I did mind that. I grew up totally spoiled and it is a miracle that I did not become the bad sheep of the family. Wait! Doesn’t being gay brand me as the bad sheep? Well, since I am not Scottish, I’ll leave the meaning of sheep to a different day and explanation. Returning to the discussion about my relationship with my sister, I can say that there was a long period of time when we were kind of total strangers. During my parents’ golden years, I basically assumed the responsibilities of helping them transition through a difficult period of their lives. I was quite grateful that somehow, their grandchildren (i.e., my sister’s kids) took a keen interest in their welfare. That helped me a lot. But sis was nowhere to be found. She was fighting her own demons.

It was not until the end of my parents’ life that I became aware that some of her demons were created by a society which viewed males as privileged members. She once mentioned that my parents preferred me more. However, I always had the impression that my parents treated us equally. They also paid for her university studies, right? But now, looking back, I can see how her views came into being. I bet my mother went overboard with me in front of my sister. I am sure that sis was a bit jealous about how I was treated. Now, what shall I do as we both take the path towards the golden years? I really don’t know. On this trip, she mentioned that I made a promise to her when I was six years old. She said that I promised to buy her a house. Huh!!!!

P.S. My friend Happy Amsterdam Guy mentions how happy he is in paying his taxes in the Netherlands because of the great government services he gets. He may have a heart attack if he finds out there is no sales tax in Oregon and no state income tax in Washington State. So, if you work in Washington State and shop in Oregon…

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