Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Jordan/Yuan-Wei: Finally Being Called "Home"

I'll get to the title I just entered, but first - do you ever think of how weird "Western Names" for Chinese people are?  Like, if I asked you what your favorite Chan Yuan-Lung movie was, you'd think you'd never heard of the guy, and that's kind of fucking crazy - you would think that after decades of having success on both sides of the Pacific, folks would at least absorb the name by which Jackie Chan is known in Hong Kong as a fun piece of trivia, or maybe try to use it more if they're good progressive folks, but nah - they (heck, I admit it, we) just keep using the name he chose because white people couldn't handle a Chinese name and he wanted to do business with them.  Even though people use the names of Japanese and Korean actors all the time, this weird and sort of racist tradition continues.

Although, heck, I'm named "Jordan" because my parents wanted to make things easy on me and Max at school and later on, and I went to using that after graduating college as Yuan-Wei because I'd rather go by that than "Missy".  Sometimes, growing up, I kind of wished I had a Chinese name; today I'm kind of grateful because it gives me a way to more easily reclaim a bit of who I am than other folks who have been to the Inn get.  Being Jordan Lee lets me more easily separate myself from Lee Yuan-Wei, even if it also means I'm also not Jordan Chang.

But it's apparently time to accept being Lee Yuan-Wei more.  The person who has been Wang Chen-Ai for the past couple of years is kind of stuck in Hong Kong despite not really knowing any Cantonese or Mandarin - just disappearing in the United States for a few months gets a flag put on your passport, apparently.  It's not as bad as it sounds - you can get by there just speaking English, and whatever magic the Inn has which keeps people from believing it exists must make her claim that some sort of stroke erased her first language but not her second sound less ridiculous.  She's hired "Bingbing" - the original Chen-Ai - as an "assistant" despite my warnings, but I can't exactly argue with someone on the other side of the world and a different culture from what is home that she shouldn't lean on the person who knows it best.

The family's lawyers feel a little differently, though, and have contacted me, saying that I really shouldn't leave my mother in this situation.  Romain and René - the original Yuan-Wei and Bingbing - either don't have super-strong opinions or just sort of freeze trying to figure out what their interest should be at this point and I don't blame them.  Meanwhile, my employer is finally getting around to opening a department in Hong Kong; they'd planned to do it a couple years ago, but then there was a fucking pandemic.  Now, though, they really want a piece of the visual effects market in China, and to a lesser extent Korea, Japan, and India, and here I am, with a pretty good record, speaking the language, and technically only living in Southern California because they sponsor my visa.  As it turns out, the timing of this works out pretty good for "Lee Yuan-Wei" - because they couldn't open two years ago, I've got more experience, so if I transfer to the new location, I'll get a promotion to lead animator, probably a couple years ahead of when I would if I stayed in L.A.  It's a good opportunity, but I'd like it more if it felt like "spend a couple years overseas, come home with a promotion" rather than maybe the end of my life as an American.

I don't think my employer would fire me for not going, but I have joked about it being a shame I'm not in a relationship so that I could believably become a citizen through marriage.

As you can see, there's a huge part of me that hates all this and resents that it's going to push me into upending my whole life again, and I kind of want to do what i did when I woke up as Deirdre and just put my foot down and say fuck it, I'm going to keep living my life no matter what.  But I was talking to my folks, and they kind of pointed out that the Inn has been good to me.  Not that I should be grateful for the way it messed up my life, but I've got friends, I'm physically younger, healthier, and more attractive, if in a different way.  This life comes with resources and I've been able to redirect it into something that probably suits me better than both my original path and the one it was on.  I've got friends in Annette, Jonah, Ernesto, and a few others like I haven't had before.  If that means helping to look after some 75-year-old white woman who finds herself trapped in a Chinese life she doesn't understand, I guess it's not a bad price.

I'd just like to feel like I've got a little more control over it before something else sends it in a different direction!


No comments: