The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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This memory is about the time my dad was moving into his house for the first time in the U.S. Previously they had been in a refugee camp, but found some stability in the chaos of the aftermath of the Vietnam war having permanently relocated to the U.S.

Uncomfortably stuck in the backseat of the broken down minivan Long sat, running his fingers through the condensation collecting on the window, practicing writing his name in the English alphabet. Confined in that minivan, he did not feel safe. It might have been the inexperience of his father behind the wheel, nearly barrelling them off the side of the road, or that he’s never been in a car before.

As he was poking the metal key bit attached to some fabric strap in the crevices of the seat to see if it would unlock anything, the worn down tires on the van screeched to a halt. He leaned closer to the window to peer out through the letter L he had drawn to see why the sudden stop. He couldn’t see much, so he took the palm of his hand and brushed it across the window to open a bigger portal to the outside. Whatever he was looking at was as foreign to him as he was to it.

“Come on. Let’s go” his mom said, opening the door and ushering them with her hands to come out of the van.

Long and his sister, Jocelyn, were reluctant to leave the security of the van. They hadn’t the slightest clue where they were, yet after continual persistence by their mother they got out.

“I’m scared” quivered Jocelyn, trying to get back into the van.

“It’ll be okay” Long said, recognizing his sister needed him and held her hand.

Together the two of them walked down the path. Long stopped to check out the metal box impaled by a wooden spike. He opened it up, peeking his head inside.

“Who’s there” he said, but the only response was the echo of his voice.

Thinking that it went on forever, he reached his hand inside and didn’t get to far in before his hand couldn’t go any further. His mom grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and pulled him inside. Tailing his mom, he followed her into a room.

Against the wall was another box that he had absolutely no clue what it was. Thinking it to be a weapon, he hesitated to approach it, but after showing that it wasn’t doing anything, he slowly inched closer, taking caution with each step. When he got within arm’s reach, he reached his arm out and gave it a quick poke. Whatever it was, it didn’t react. He began to investigate, running his hand along it and continually prodding it with his fingers before stumbling across the power button. Believing he set it off, he stumbled backwards before catching himself and running outside.

His mom chased after him, quickly gaining ground and grabbing him by the wrists.

“Let’s go back inside. This is home now” she said.

An Unfamiliar Place

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1970
Hatfield, PA

This memory is about the time my dad was moving into his house for the first time in the U.S. Previously they had been in a refugee camp, but found some stability in the chaos of the aftermath of the Vietnam war having permanently relocated to the U.S.

Decade: 1970s
Rating:
Recorded by Tyler Le on June 3, 2019
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