Empire of the Sun

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

I hadn’t seen Empire of the Sun in years.

It was the last film I ever watched with my father--him, sick, lying on a hospital bed; me, 11, completely unaware that this would be the final thing we’d ever share.

Before, I’d often complain: “Dad, you’re ruining it; you’re talking too much.” But now he couldn’t talk at all, and the silence left something rotten in the pit of my stomach.

In his passing, the rot only grew, and I took it with me all the way from the Philippines to the United States. “Things aren’t normal anymore,” my mother told me. “It’s just you and me now, kiddo.”

I wanted more than anything to pretend as things were normal, however. That my new school would be just like the last--that I would fit in--that my father was merely on a business trip, and that this was all temporary. But upon entering my first ever public school here in the US, I knew that pretending that nothing had changed would be no easy feat. I was a sore thumb sticking out in a sea of kids who’d grown up together, who’d seen each other every day for every year of their lives--who lived down the street from one another like characters out of a 90s coming-of-age movie. The thought was impossible (it still boggles me now, in all honesty)--the longest...

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