My mother left for America in 1996. Before she was going to board the plane, she changed from her traditional longyi, a cylindrical piece of cloth that is wrapped around your waist, into a more western style dress. However, she placed the longyi in her suitcase, as she was planning to bring it to America. After saying her final goodbyes, she left the country she known for over 30 years to go to an unfamiliar and alien place: America. She arrived in Manhattan, where my dad had been staying and working for 2 years. Together, they worked and saved enough money to open their own store in 1999, and later, in 2000, I was born, the first Burmese-American in my family.
When I look through my mom's closet, I always see the longyi that she brought over from Myanmar, but I have never seen her wear it. She keeps it as a memento of her past - something that has too much meaning for her to wear. It reminds her of her youth, her time in Myanmar, and her family back home. I don't plan on seeing her wear it other than in pictures, but I know that it's more than just a piece of cloth.
– William Soe