Stepping off the train Lily scanned the platform looking for a face she had never seen before but she knew she would instantly recognize. As her grandmother had put it “How many Orientals could there be in Texas?” The fact that Lily herself was half Chinese did little to dampen her grandmother’s use of outdated and mortifying racial terms.
Growing up Lily knew from an early age she had been adopted. Her Chinese ancestry stood out clearly against her predominantly Polish/Jewish family in Chicago. But the discovery that she had come from Texas, as opposed to China, was still shocking to Lily.
. . .
Lily felt the blast of the furnace-like Texas heat, made even more intense in contrast to the ultra cooled air of the train. Besides it was never this hot and dry in her hometown of Chicago.
“Excuse me, are you Miss Lily?” a tall man in jeans, cowboy boots and hat asked. Blonde hair stuck out under the brim of his hat. He was not Chinese in any way.
“I am” Lily replied, pushing her glasses up. “Are you a friend of Linda’s?”
“Yes ma’am. I was sent here to pick you up.” He reached for the bag in Lily’s hands, which she clung to with unreasonable force.
“It’s alright there little lady. I’m not gonna steal your bag. Just want to help you carry it to the truck.”
Things were not going as Lily had imagined they would upon her arrival to San Antonio. She was expecting to be joyfully greeted by her biological mother Linda Yee, with maybe a crowd forming to witness their tearful reunion. She’d watched the “Joy Luck Club” movie a few times and knew how these things were supposed to go. Instead, a cowboy was trying to take her bag and there were no other Asians in sight.
“So who are you?” Lily asked in an accusatory tone after reluctantly letting the nameless stranger take her bag. These were the kind of people her grandmother warned her about.
“Where are my manners! I was so excited to meet you I plum forgot. I recon’ I should have introduced myself right away! My name is Stan and it is a pleasure to meet you!” Lifting his hat off his head he gave a little curtsy to Lily. She noticed his eyes behind his glasses were bright blue and his mahogany skin looked weathered by a lifetime spent in the sun.
“So you’re a friend of my birth mother?”
“Me and your mom go way back. All the way to high-school in fact.” Lily noticed he seemed to cut himself off from saying more. Stan turned, motioning towards the exit with his head. “We’d better get a move on or else we’ll be late for the feast your mom is making.”
“Birth mother” Lily corrected.
Staring at the side of his face Lily realized Stan was more than just a friend of her mom’s. She’d wait until they got to the house to let on that she knew he was her father. Maybe there would be a joyful crowd awaiting her there.