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With a degree in International Business Management, Sophia has worked in a major marketing firm where she realized the corporate world isn’t one she wants to be in. She then made the switch into the healthcare industry as a Registered Massage Therapist by day and a writer by night. She is now a Massage Therapy instructor and a published author living with her husband and daughter in Toronto. Her go-to genres are science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian; or anything that sweeps her away into a foreign world that promises adventure.
There are so many things I can talk about but for some reason, I really wanted to tell you a little adventure I went on when I was nine that no parents nowadays would dare to do with their kids. But first, let me set the stage for you.
I'm a Chinese Canadian, born and raised in China until I was nine. Like a lot of people living in China back in the 80s, my parents sought out every opportunity to leave home so they could build a better life. They managed to come to Canada, but the cost was to leave me behind with my grandma—a big sacrifice for a better future for the whole family. I was four when they left.
Now some of you at this point, especially those with kids, might gasp at my parents' decision. Now that I'm also a mom, I too cannot begin to fathom the pain of leaving behind my precious daughter while not knowing when we will reunite again. But now that I know what they felt, I applaud my parents for their courage, for I was too young to know the difference of not having them around but they were the ones who had to suffer the torment. Without their sacrifice, I wouldn't be the person I am today and I wouldn't have the comfortable life and freedom Canada offers.
So when the good news came that I was to reunite with my parents in Toronto five years later, everyone's enthusiasm was drowned by the problem at hand. They could only afford one flight ticket and my mom was very pregnant with my brother, which meant I had to fly from China to Canada all by myself. And the best part, I didn't speak a word of English. As a last minute preparation, my grandma sent me to night school in the hope that I'd learn enough English to help my travel. It did not. Unless knowing “this is a man” and “this is a pen” would suffice.
Despite the long journey, I was not afraid. It was simply something I had to do. But excitement also eluded me because not only was I going to an unknown place on the other side of the globe, I was leaving behind a life I knew and loved.
The day came and I was ready with my little pink messenger bag that I was told to guard with my life. Apparently it contained the bit of jewelry my parents left for me. My grandma and my uncle said their goodbyes at the departure area and to their relief, a flight attendant led me through customs without complication. I was ready to break out my two English phrases but there was no need. The same lady led me to the gate where I had to wait for boarding. I watched as the seats filled up around me while clutching my pink bag on my lap. Just then I realized I forgot to pay the nice lady. I was given twenty Hong Kong dollars and specific instructions to do so. Oh well.
I boarded the plane without incident and was well on my way to Vancouver, a fourteen-hour flight. The first eight hours were relatively uneventful. Then turbulence hit. Having never been exposed to such gut-wrenching jolts, my stomach couldn't withstand it. I vomited all over myself; my knit sweater, my pants, and my precious pink bag. The flight attendant was quick to act, cleaning me up as best as she could but I had no extra clothes as everything was checked. That day I learned never to wear a knit sweater on a plane.
I don't remember much about the layover in Vancouver but the flight that followed was even more memorable than the first. At least the first flight had Chinese flight attendants and the food was semi-edible. Not a single person I saw on the second flight spoke my language. My nerves kicked in as I realized I was truly alone. I hugged myself tight in my window seat and hoped to fall asleep so the five-hour flight would go by faster. But my bladder decided to complain and I had to pee badly shortly after takeoff. It should be common sense to just walk around until you find a washroom. But I was afraid. This was not the same flight I took that had familiar faces and understandable instructions. To the nine year-old me who was not only surrounded by strangers, but strange humans who looked different and sounded different, common sense was nowhere to be seen inside my frightened head.
Then a random act of kindness brought me to senses. By then I had curled myself into a ball fighting my urge. The guy next to me suddenly grabbed my blanket that I didn't know had fallen to the floor, and wrapped it around my body. He probably doesn't remember having done such a minute thing for a stranger but his action had lifted a frightened little girl from the dark. To this day, I still remember what it felt like when that blanket touched my back.
At that moment, I decided that I had enough filth on me for the day and I would not allow myself to be reduced to a baby, peeing in her pants. I leaned slightly over to the kind stranger and whispered. He said “What?” a few times, couldn't make out what I said in my tiny mousy voice, and the fact that I was speaking in Cantonese. I had asked him where the washroom was but he didn't understand. Neither did the flight attendant he sought out to help. I don't know what exactly happened next but somehow they managed to find the only Chinese person on board, who was sitting at the opposite end of the plane. She showed me to the washroom and was able to switch seats to accompany me for the rest of the flight.
When I met my parents at the gate, their eyes were full of excitement and anticipation. I on the other hand, was calm and grateful. I appreciated every act of kindness shown my way and I knew then that this is one heck of a ride that I'd never forget. Oh and my precious pink bag made it safely as well.
I hope all of you enjoyed my mini memoir. Thank you for reading. Feel free to connect with me on www.sophialjohnsonbooks.com.
Warm wishes to all!
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