Leaving Home: Chapter 6

Snippets of a Life Well Lived

My mom was gracious enough to send me an unsolicited email with more anecdotes from her first few years living in the states. These didn’t quite make it into her chapter, so I’ve included them in their entirety below. (Also, spoiler alert: my mom says “shit” and I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve ever heard/read my mom curse. It’s weird.)

Just some interesting/fun stuff I did on my first several months/year in the United States:

Stayed in a 4 bedroom/1 bath [apartment] with three other nurses. Initially [we] had to eat at a coffee table since we didn’t have a dining table yet.


Every other Thursday (payday), Nida, Jo and I would go to Jack in the Box for a “treat.”


Photo Jan 01, 12 44 45 PM

That same Thursday at night, we’d gather in one of the rooms to talk about finances. We put gas money in an envelope so whoever [used] the car will get the money from that envelope. (Gas was less than a dollar per gallon then.) There [was] four of us who owned a 1974 Ford, but the car was only under Nida’s name.

That was also the time we put in our share for the apartment/utility bills, car payment and the hardest of all, figuring out the telephone bill. All of us made overseas calls to the Philippines. I was always the one who ended up with the largest bill (calls to [Ed] and my family). I remember having to wait to call when it wasn’t peak time so it would be cheaper. It would be from [11:00pm-7:00am] here, which was daytime in the Philippines, so it worked out just fine. I think the cheapest rate was a dollar per minute back in 1982. There were no free services like Skype, Facetime, Viber, etc.

Whenever we went to the groceries, we split the bill into four; didn’t matter if one didn’t drink soda or eat this or that, it was divided into four. We were not that particular.


We took turns in cooking so you could pretty much bet on what you’d be eating at any given day, depending on whose turn it is to cook (same menus from individuals).


I remember watching a Cowboys game against the NY Giants, December of 1982 sponsored by the hospital. It cost me $18. That included the bus ride, ticket to the game (good seats), hot dog and a drink! I got a crash course on football from my coworker and that’s how I began to love the sport. We won that game!


George and Lina [friends from Paris, Texas] always invited us to their home and I remember George calling us to tell us when it was snowing outside.


When I went to Dallas for an interview for a job at Parkland, I took the Trailway bus to Dallas, then took a cab from downtown to the hotel nearest to Parkland. Then, I took a cab again the following morning to go for my interview. Didn’t realize it was only less than a 2 mile drive. But I was not about to walk that distance with my luggage. I had a big rock that I brought with me from Paris that I put under my pillow when I was at the hotel. I guess I was planning on throwing that rock at any intruder in the hotel. Nida had a knife under her pillow.


Photo Dec 28, 9 14 37 A_crop
The very first Christmas party we were invited to, [in] 1982, was by an American couple. I remember seeing their dog all dressed up for the holidays. Growing up with no pets and scared of them anyway, I remember saying to myself “these Americans don’t have anything better to do with their money than spend them on their dogs”. Look how far I [have] come since then. (We have had a dog for the past few years that she spoils the hell out of and squeezes into little outfits once in a while. Oh, how the tables have turned!)


I remember getting these weird looks from my coworkers when I [spoke]. One of my coworkers later told me that it’s the way I pronounce some words, specifically the word “sheets.” Back then, phonetics was not an emphasis in school. [In addition,] we don’t have the letters “F” and “V” in our alphabet. So when I [said] “sheets” I [said] it like “shit” which had some heads turning! They couldn’t believe this came out of the mouth of this 5 ft, 90 lb something girl. I still get self-conscious every now and then so, to be safe, I just say “linens.”

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