The Americano Dream

An immigrant's daughter remembers her father's assimilation (and what happens when you wear a Red Sox cap in Queens)

| July / August 2006

You start by dreaming: You dream of green lawns, big cars, and a house with many rooms. You don't tell your father of your dreams. He would tell you you're being immodest. 'Why always so big and fancy?' he would ask. You don't listen to those who doubt you. They talk about how you'll be back in a year, how America is a tough place to cut it. You take your wife and you hop the next 22-hour flight from the Philippines to the States. From the plane, you watch your island country grow smaller and smaller.

You arrive in America in a suit and tie. You find an apartment in a big city. The walls are thin, and you don't like the way it smells. You notice how the city is tight, with barely room to breathe. You thought there would be more trees. You have an apartment on the fifth floor, and when you look out the window to the cement sidewalk below, you think how nice it would be if you were closer to the ground.

Even though you were a doctor back home, you work at a blood bank here until you fulfill all of the U.S. tests and qualifications. They give you the crazy shifts, the ones that everyone else passes on. You learn to ignore the woman who requests to see an 'American' doctor. You give her care, but you don't tell her to come back.

The grocery clerks snap at you. 'It's ham, sir, not hum,' they say. 'If you want Tang, don't say tongue!' You write this down and you remember this. At a meeting at the hospital, the director turns to you and asks, 'What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?' You buy a book of American idioms and you find out what he means. When he asks a question during the next meeting, you are compelled to say, 'The proof is in the pudding!' Everyone looks at you, puzzled.

You learn that Americans are so tall. You don't seem to fit. The pants are too long and your shoulders are tiny in their tailored shirts. You buy your clothes from the boys' department, and you don't tell anybody. They are cheaper anyway.

You learn to love baseball, a game they don't play where you're from. You dedicate yourself to your local team. The Boston Red Sox. What do you love? How the game can change in the matter of an inning. How you can be down 8-0 in the eighth inning and have a nine-run rally at the top of the ninth with two outs to spare. Just like that. You yell at the TV when the ump calls a ball a strike. You swear at him in Tagalog. From the kitchen, your wife throws things at you.

6/23/2014 12:01:26 PM

In my mind the American dream is to have a job that makes you happy and to support your family, a home that is right for you and your family's needs and comforting. To own a car that is reliable and be able to replace it with a new one every 5 years or so? to be able to go on vacation every year or two. To be financially secure enough to be able to make the payments for all of the above along with insurance paying for these things.

6/2/2010 8:51:12 PM

this is very good essay

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