Because spring is here and I need to look “professional” for the next few days, I decided to treat myself to a pedicure.
Once I had my feet plunked in the hot water I asked the woman who was massaging them: Where were you born? She said, VietNam. I said I loved Vietnamese food. She said she didn’t know much about VietNam, really. Then, because I listened, she spent the next 45 minutes telling me her story. I asked a few questions, but mainly I just listened as the story came out.
She escaped VietNam at the age of 6, with her aunt, who was 21. They escaped to Cambodia first, hiding in a house in a forest, which they could not leave for more than a month, not even to go out the door. Then they were smuggled onto a ship and got to Thailand. They lived in refugee camps in Thailand for about 5 years. The stories about those camps are are hers alone to tell. They are horrific. She said simply “This is why I am happy for what I have.”
Then she came here to northern Virginia. She got an education. A college degree in Management Information Systems. Actually, she has a management level job, but helps out at the nail salon occasionally. And the reason she is available today is that she is on maternity leave. She had a baby 5 weeks ago. And now she is tending to my nails.
Everybody has a story.