I traveled to Thailand, my parents’ homeland, several times as a young child. To me, home was a small white house in Omaha, Nebraska. The only people I knew who looked like me were my own family sharing that house. So Thailand was both foreign and familiar, and waking up there after sleeping through a long plane trip, was like waking to a dream.

 

My eyes opened to a sun-filled street,

a river of movement and color,

and noise:

honking cars, tinny bicycle bells,

and voices calling.

 

A current of people pushed by,

pulling with them

nets of string bags

filled with shopping.

Children, too, were pulled

into the current,

hands hooked to hands.

 

And in my dream,

the children looked back at me.

Our dark eyes met.

Our scalps, hair pulled tight into pigtails,

tingled with recognition.

 

I wanted to keep looking,

but the current was so strong,

it pulled me, too.

Aunty plunged into the traffic,

gripping me with one hand,

the other hand raised to stop the flow.

 

I knew then that I would wake soon,

to the rules of traffic,

and to the world I knew,

but did not recognize.

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