“Rainbow!” She greets me warmly, using my given name instead of Rayne which is what I prefer. She and my late father were hippies and named me Rainbow Freedom Liang and my sister who is three years younger—almost to the day—Liberty Moonbeam Liang. Or is that Liberty Justice Liang? I can never remember her middle name, but I think it’s Moonbeam. She goes by Libby. She was also a birthday gift, but not a welcomed one. She is three years and one day younger than I, and I used to think my parents did it on purpose. “How are you?” My mother has given up many of her hippie ways since I was almost killed the first time, but she refuses to compromise on my name. We speak in English most of the time with Taiwanese interspersed in the conversation. When we don’t want people around to know what we’re talking about, we switch to Taiwanese.
We chat in a laidback sort of way because that’s the kind of person my mom is, though she’s been more engaged with me the last few months. She calls almost daily, and I see her once a week. She lives in Berkeley, of course, which makes communication easy. We talk about Libby—Liberty, as my mother calls her—who just emailed my mother asking her to fly out a month early for the wedding. We are both amazed as our Libby loathes to ask for help from anybody. Also, my mother is involved in many committees not to mention still teaching classes. Plus, she’s a painter. It would be difficult for her to take a month off from her various duties. Libby lives in New York City where she’s a big pooh-bah on Wall Street engaged to a stock broker. She’s also a major bitch. I thought she’d be nicer after 9/11, but she’s pushed it out of her mind and refuses to talk about it. Oddly enough, it’s the wedding which is making her act slightly more human.
My mother can’t go a month early, as we both know. She hates to disappoint my sister, however, as she asks for so little. How like Libby. She doesn’t ask for anything for years then when she does, it’s over the top. My mother goes on to inform me that Libby has requested that I get a move on with my itinerary for the wedding. I heave a sigh. Although she’s eased up on the dictums in the last month, she still tends to bark out orders as if she’s the general of an army. Among them—I lose ten pounds, not get a new tattoo or piercing, shave my legs, and get a manicure and pedicure. Not to mention the indignity of having to wear a pink fru-fru dress. Pardon me, mauve. The weight is gone, but not through any effort of my own. I will get another damn tattoo if I feel like it, and as for the other stuff—we’ll see.