I flew into Miami for 1.5 days to help one of my best friends get settled in her her new home. Which meant 13 hours of manual labor, 10 of which was spent painting. We managed to take two meal breaks outside of her new house and a ten minute visit to Miami Beach on our way to the airport. I told her why Miami Beach in particular made me think of my dad. My dad has hardly had any days off of work in at least 17 years. He doesn’t even take the weekends or holidays off. He’s taken a total of 6 days off in this time, all day trips for high school and college graduations for my brother and me and a couple of day visits to Austin and San Antonio. (My brother lives in San Antonio.)
I’ve been negligent in my goal of transcribing my dad’s journal depicting his life in Vietnam, his years spent in a reeducation camp, and the beginning of his escape from Vietnam post war. In one of the few passages I transcribed, he wrote about his dreams of coming to Miami Beach.
People stayed quiet and looked out the ocean. They seemed to be in some kind of meditation. Besides worrying about the safety of the trip, the sea worthiness of the boat, and the danger of encountering the Thai pirates, did we really leave Vietnam behind? Would we ever see Vietnam again? What about the loved ones that we left behind? What will be waiting for us when we come to our destination? I dreamed of being on Miami Beach, laying on the sand, doing nothing for at least a month, of going back to college, studying more, rebuilding my life!
Here I was, stopping by Miami Beach, doing something my dad had yearned to do but has never done. It chokes me up sometimes when I think about my many adventures in comparison to his very few. Especially since my adventurous spirit comes from him. And not only is it a trait I inherited from him, but my parents have sacrificed so much so that I can go on these adventures. Instead of buying a nice house, they stuck my brother and me into private schooling. He sent me back to Vietnam without him twice, while he has yet to go back since escaping. He made sure I was able to go on the European class trip in high school when it was difficult financially.
He emboldened me to seek out travel. All the while never leaving his post at his store.
This blog post was intended to be a light recap about a weekend in Miami I spent painting. I just didn’t expect the guilt and hurt that a mere ten minutes at a beautiful beach evoked.
You can read more of this particular passage from my dad’s journal here.