When my ex-husband first came to the U.S. in 1989, he had only ever been to China and Japan before. I thought he would love Monterey the way I did, with its quaint Victorian houses painted in pastels, its bright flowers and succulents filling the little gardens.
This is the house I found for us. I loved it. For years after we lived there, I had dreams of it, dreaming more rooms into it so that it would accommodate us beyond grad school. It barely accommodated us then.
My husband’s visa, as a Chinese citizen applying from Japan, took months and months to come through. Lonely for him, I went time and again to the Immigration Office. I visited the office of our Representative, Leon Panetta. I wrote Mr. Panetta a letter, entreating him to help. Soon after that, the visa came through. I’ve always given Panetta the credit, and watched with pride, as if I owned him, as he’s risen through the ranks of the government.
My husband was very quiet the day he came. He flew into San Francisco, and I thought he’d like eating in Chinatown in the City, but it depressed him. As we drove through Monterey, he got quieter and quieter. We parked in front of our house, and he sat looking at it.
“Where are all the people?” he asked. “This country is like a ghost town. And it’s so run down.” It took him a long time and a lot of friend building to get over that feeling of people-deprivation here. And then he could never get used to the crowds in China again.
I visited this little house again last week, after twenty years of dreams. It hasn’t changed a bit. I wonder who lives there now.