Growing Up in a Grocery Store
My childhood playground were the aisles of a grocery store. I am convienced my mother secretly Mr. Miyagi-ed me to sort through the hundreds of cases of blue berries to tediously select out the rotting and shrivelled ones. This task was a painful pursuit that I absolutely hated. But there was some strange feeling of accomplishment to see that my hours of diligent labour was being sold and displayed. My efforts were going to provide a pack of perfect blueberries to someone.
My parents worked tirelessly – 7 days a week, 16-20 hour days. There was a mattress in the basement of our store where my parents would take turns cat napping , so that the store could remain open from 7 am -11 pm. They didn’t bake muffin for my school bake sales. They were seldom at my sports games. As a growing teen, I resented that my parents were “never” there for me. It is as a parent, I now see with clarity and deeper understanding that my parents, were working to survive and start a better life, not for them, but for generations after them.
I had a conversation with a patient the other day who assumed I got good grades to became a Naturopathic Doctor because of studious routine and good habits. I didn’t have a desk. I read my books at the store counter while bagging groceries. I also loved going to school because it meant I didn’t have to sort through blueberries and decaying produce.
I believe I did well in school because I learned that results are birthed out of consistent perseverance and flexibility. My work ethic and resilience is not because I had my parents watching over me to do my homework, but it was from my quiet observation of watching them. Working overtime was a means of necessity and survival. There was no other way. This is now deeply a part of my identity. It’s the immigrant way.
Thank you Eomma and Appa for your sacrifice and your teachings. Who knew sorting blueberries would have prepared me for covid life? Well, I guess you did.
I am forever grateful for everything you have done for me and my family. I know that I am living a life of privilege because of all the pleasures you surrendered. ❣️
The next generation
Soma and Soul Wellness