An ancient relic from her fashionista past, my mother is overwhelmed by a rush of nostalgia every time she opens this photo album. These photos showcase her designs for a fashion competition in which she won second place in during college. She was an aspiring fashion designer, on her way to opening her own handbag company, before giving it all up to support my father's art career in the U.S. We immigrated to New York in 2006 and she found a job working minimum wage at a nail salon. Today, she works as a Chinese teacher and has never attempted to reenter the fashion industry in America. Although I always wonder about "what could have been" when I flip through these photos, my mother thinks about the "what is". She doesn't consider my father's success and my cozy life in America as trade-offs of her short-lived fashion career, but fruits of her hard work. Everything she has sacrificed or accomplished until now were all efforts to build a better life for me. That's a sentiment I like to keep close to my heart whenever I start second guessing my place here in America.
– Tianzi Lin