Yellow: Negatives of the Neighborhood 1993-2001

A collection of loosely-autobiographical vignettes

Nº 1 - Kim

They lived on Quixote Road, the Woman and her Daughter. We called her Lao Tai, literally Old Wife, although we did not ascertain her age, nor were we ever, in all our period of acquaintance, to understand the existence of Old Husband. However, because of the Daughter, we applied the classical rules of biology and based our assumptions accordingly.

Lao Tai's Daughter's name was Kim. I fancied that her three-letter sobriquet, curly blonde hair, and plump cheeks made her a rather charming honorary Chinese. I was disappointed, several years after saying goodbye to her forever, to find that she was just an ordinary Kimberleigh, after all.

Kim taught me how to make paper snowflakes. She convinced my timorous heart that they fell naturally from the sky, and gently dismissed my notion of celestial paper shredders. She gave me a string of translucent plastic beads to put around my index finger whenever I was so inclined. Lao Tai knit in her spare time, and made me a koala and a camel. She cooked strange aromas like bacon and gingersnaps in the evenings, while I awkwardly scraped my bowl with mismatched chopsticks. They were children to me, and perhaps, inadvertently, I was their child.

Kim once gave me a necklace that did not rust for eleven years. I often wondered if it had any gold in it. My mother said of course not and called it cheap, but she pursed her lips at its immaculate appearance -- it had remained so even after my showering with it around my neck for a decade. The day it began to turn grey, I stripped it off and began writing.

My mother told me not to be like Kim, who was a cashier at IGA. Apparently, in this country, for which we had left everything behind to coexist in, a cashier was the lowest thing one could be.