A few days ago, we hooked up with some friends that we haven’t seen in a while. They have a 3 year old little girl who I always think looks like me when I was her age. It’s a strange thing to even think – and it’s even stanger to actually say out loud. But, somehow it managed to come up in conversation without sounding stalkerish. My friend mentioned that she’d like to see a picture, so I sent her one that I just happened to have scanned into my computer. I ended up sending it to my dad as well, and he responded that I looked very dismayed. He followed up with this:
I still remember you in Rangoon taking all the pots out of the cupboard and banging them on the concrete floor. Mong Ni, the cook, looked dismayed. But, he let you do it as long as you wanted. I think he was deaf.
When I was born, my father lived in Rangoon, Burma (also known as Myanmar) working for Hughes Helicopters, who provided the black silent helicopter -Hughes 500P for Air America. (Incidentally, you can read a fascinating blog about the helicopters here). When I was six weeks old, my mother and I moved over there to be with him. We had a cook, a nanny, a housekeeper, groundskeeper, etc. To hear my dad talk about it, we were treated like royalty by the locals – and it’s probably an accurate account given the socio-economics of the region.
I know I lived there. There are pictures that prove it and the occasional story that my dad will tell – like the one in the email this morning. But, I was too young to remember, so it’s as if I am hearing about somebody else’s life. But, sometimes I think that the experience must have had an impact on who I am. Perhaps it’s the reason why I have always wanted to travel the world — and why I have always been fascinated by other cultures. And, maybe my dad’s involvement in Air America has some bearing on why some would characterize me as a bleeding heart liberal. Maybe. But, probably not. It’s more likely that I just romanticize it because I think it is a very cool part of my story.
My mother and I eventually left Burma and my parents divorced. There is a story behind why, but if I told you, I’d probably have to kill you. You can fill that part of the story in yourself……although the truth is probably much stranger than anything you might come up with. Have fun with it though – and I’d love to hear your theory.
Anyway, all of that because I met a little girl who I thought looked a little like me when I was a baby.