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Thứ Năm, 13 tháng 1, 2011

These mittens are Christmas gift from Linh. After the holiday season, they have become so extremely popular that since school resumed, every day I can spot at least few people wearing the same thing on the bus, as well as sit or stand beside at least one having the exact same mittens on. Girls and boys, young and old, everywhere and anywhere, I see the bright red mittens like little flame. I was sitting on the bus and thought to myself: “Ngoài phố mùa đông, đôi tay em là đốm lửa hồng”.
People often cast me a glance when they notice I am wearing the same mittens as theirs. I interpret it as: “What the hell are you doing wearing my country’s flag?” By the way, “what the hell” doesn’t necessarily mean anger or annoyance.  The phrase may well express amazement or surprise, just like “You’re sick” is actually a compliment, a cool way to let someone know they are awesome. I think people would be delighted to know that someone loves their country and want to keep an image of Canada with them. I have imagined, more than once, wearing that pair of mittens in another country and proudly say that I have lived in Canada and I love it.
A morning, while waiting for the bus, I looked down and realized that all the girls at the bus stop were wearing the same boots, brown or black, exactly alike my own. An evening, while waiting for the professor to come in, I looked around and realized that another girl had the same coat I do, but luckily, didn’t wear that day. I see students wearing the same hairstyle, but didn’t pay attention until one day I had the same on. And I’ve always wanted to buy a hoodie which has “Trent” on it, and wear it just like everyone else.
The urge to conform is so formidable that it can go unnoticed by most of us. The desire to blend in and mingle with the bigger society manifests itself in an unconscious wish to look like the rest, at least for me. I don’t actively seek to dress like other girls, just one random moment, I looked into the mirror and recognized how much I do look like them.
Back in summer, an Australian I met in Vietnam told me I have a Canadian accent. I wasn’t surprised, but rather quite amused.
One day, quite long ago, I determined that I wouldn’t say “like” too much when I talk. Then, I realized that I was repeatedly using a word no English teacher has ever taught me. “It is, like, 20 minutes from here. Yes, I take the bus, like, the bus runs every 40 minutes, blah blah blah.” But I kept using “like” in conversations, because, it’s like, what everyone does.
One day, I cursed in my head. “What the hell?”. I have always refrained from cursing, even in another language, so I don’t say it out loud if I can help it. I am also careful not to say “oh, my God”, because I don’t belong to a religion where a God is the Supreme Being. I’d rather say: “ôi trời ơi”
I used to be incapable of eating cheese. I didn't like the taste, and my stomach got upset whenever I ate more than a tiny bit. Then, I can eat cheese fine, as much as I want. Someday, not too far in the future, I think I'll like cheese.
The same goes with pizza, fries and burgers. Who knows, I still don't drink coffee now, but one day I will.
So, I gradually look more like a Canadian. I wear things they do. I eat things they like. Little by little, I think and talk like them, both in content, in words, and in tone. Not only I am better at feeling what they feel (after 4 years listening to chit-chat on bus), I am more prone to feel like them and express my emotions the way they do.
Eventually, Im afraid, I’ll become one of them.
But that won’t happen. Because I won’t stay.

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