When my mom, my sister, and I migrated to America, we lived with my oldest sister, who sponsored us, and her family in Willimantic, Connecticut. I was eleven and my two nephews were a few years younger. I didn’t know much English and they hardly spoke Vietnamese. We got along most of the time and fought once in a while. They fought each other more. A few months later, we moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
In retrospect, I wonder how my life would have turned out if we lived there. Would I ended up dropping out of high school, hanging out with crackheads, and cussing every other word? Or could we helped guiding them toward a better future? It probably would have been more of the former than the latter.
I love my nephews and we get along better now than when we were kids. We had a wonderful time together, but our lives diverted after I moved to Lancaster. A few years later, they would come visit us over the holidays and I noticed a change in them. They seemed angry. They used loads of profanity. They talked about having a crew in school so that no one could fuck with them. A few years went by, they smoked when they visit us. I was horrified, but I didn’t feel like it was my business to tell them not to smoke. The probably wouldn’t listen to me anyway.
We grew further apart, but we could always bond over our love for hip-hop. For me, rap music has always been an art form. I appreciated the lyricism, but I always separated the music from reality. Other than wearing baggy jeans, I never picked up the hip-hop lifestyle. I never let the braggadocious, misogyny, and profanity affected me. They, on the other hand, were influenced by rap. They emulated the hip-hop lifestyle, particularly in the way they talk.
Now we are grown-ass motherfuckers in our late 30s and early 40s. We have wives and kids, but we have not become fully adults ourselves. I don’t use profanity when I talk, but I still use plenty in my writing. Cussing doesn’t come easy to me in conversation, but it seems so fucking natural to them.
We choose our own path and how we live, but we are still family at the end of the day. I love them and support them as much as an uncle can. I do miss the good old days.