The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Summer of 1984

It was the summer of nineteen eighty-four when I headed to California for the first time. I’d decided to end my three-year relationship with the wrong guy about the time the nose of my Delta DC-10 lifted off the ground for San Francisco. I was two weeks shy of twenty, and on my way to a summer internship with a Fortune 500 company, where I could pretend to be worldlier than my North Carolina license revealed.

I’d be one of ten interns working in air-conditioned, corporate cafeteria comfort in the Palo Alto office park.

During the first week, I scanned the list of interns for potential romantic encounters. Of the four men, two were fellow Tarheels, and my summer roommates and were automatically disqualified. That left a Creighton University student named Steve from Nebraska and a University of Michigan student named Kevin who was from Hong Kong. I wrote him off, assuming the language and cultural barriers were too high to warrant further review.

Little did I know, Chinese Kevin had grown up in Hong Kong as an American “expat” (a term I’d never heard growing up in Salisbury). English was his only fluent language, as it is for most kids born in Virginia. I can’t give you all the details, but six summers later; I added his name to mine and entered a similar world of mistaken identity.

People I’ve met only on the phone don’t think I notice the double take when we shake hands for the first time. I imagine the same wave of assumptions passes over faces as each of my solitary frames comes into view: I grew up in the South, I live in San Francisco, I have a Chinese last name, and my office is down the hall from the washer and dryer.

I wonder how many people have written me off for any of these reasons.

By Kimberley Kwok


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I'm the other way around. I have a European last name but my face is Asian and I do get the double take once we meet in person.
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