A Fork

Write page 217 of your 300-page autobiography. (UPenn’s application)

I have encountered a fork. Should I again submit to my father’s demands as I am sent to the kitchen to serve or should I refuse and risk tainting my role as the ideal Vietnamese daughter? I succumb, and fetch a repulsive-smelling platter of duck, over-roasted with a gross crunchy charcoal skin. As I politely weave through the throng of guests, most of whom look at me for a daughter-in-law, I consider dropping the dish, hoping that my father’s cultural inflexibility would shatter along with the porcelain. Gripped by this evanescent desire to rebel, I consider discarding all items that might as well have been labeled “another expectation.” The Rich Dad, Poor Dad Bible of financial success is tossed in the overfilled pail of extracted duck bones, and the piano is broken into kindle. As the ivory keys crumble to ash, the ballet ribbons, the swim meet medals, the forty-dollar SAT guides, the TI-89 calculators, and the fencing foils are all thrown into those flames as well. Maybe, I could seek relief and liberation from my father’s standards that have churned me as if I just dizzily stepped out of the washing machine.But who would I be without those heartening expectations of his? Along with scheduled college Open Houses and weekly issues of Time magazine, I would toss out canoeing excursions down the Naugatuck River, family hikes up Mount Washington, and camping trips to Lake George, all eagerly planned by my father for our simple pleasure. I would also mistakenly toss out the birthday cakes of ice cream, his clichéd yet memorable lines from his Life’s Little Instructions book, a visit to Disney World when fifteen, and a kiss on the head every time he came home late at night, tired from work. These parts are essential to my existence; they have granted me the priceless qualities comprising who I am. Even if, in frustration, I tried to sacrifice the good with the bad, could I? While abandoning all the pressures that my father has placed on me, I would likely try to regain this role of Atlas. Remaining this muscleman in the compact body of five feet, I realized my father’s expectations shape me into a determined competitor in a race for success. I am left with a desire to overcome obstacles, of which athletics, recitals, and SAT’s are ultimately building blocks. Maybe, striving is part of me, where the successes I earn boost my confidence. In the back of my mind, this assurance is enhanced by the realization that my father truly cared. Through all the enrichment programs and camaraderie of new acquaintances, he has given to me friendships and the ability to cope with any conflict.Only recently able to comprehend the traits he developed within me, I recognize that it is due to my father’s expectations that I am prepared for my future. Processing this realization, I successfully reach the dining room table and place the main course slightly off center so the men at the far end could reach more easily. I sit down next to my father and pick up my chopsticks after all my elders have.

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