You know, this post is actually a quite difficult post for me to write. Not because the topic is a difficult one or something, but because I always internally debate whether or not to write it. Things happen… This is life. As much as I tend to believe/pretend otherwise, I’m still human too. This is why when sometimes I am in a bad mood in regards to the rest of my family, or because of reminiscing too long on my past in general, I think to myself that “I’m going to post about everything that’s ticking me off!” as a sort of “take that!” to those responsible. Of course as life goes on, I forget about what’s bothering me and the intention to write this post drifts away. We’re all human here– you know how it is.
As of late however, I have not been able to shake the thoughts that have been bothering me. I’m honestly not sure why– perhaps it has to do with me heading back for my second year of college next week combined with actually seeing the outside world for a change. (I was taught a great deal about being independent this summer by my parents). In addition, I feel that I am also starting to gain that adult-to-adult concern that children get when becoming adults themselves– I worry whether everything is ok on my parents’ end. I’m not sure exactly where this post is going yet– I rarely do. I guess I should start with a brief history about myself and my family.
My parents both came from poor backgrounds. I know that at least partially, my parents’ families were uneducated as well. See, I don’t really know my extended family that well– only my nuclear family. My Mother and Father worked very hard to escape their conditions to create an enjoyable life for their children. However, a side effect of this is that I am unable to see the rest of my family since they are on the opposite side of the world. Actually no– I have seen them once before. I was really little then since I was going into my second year of primary school. I recall at the time that I did not enjoy it very much, but now that I look back on it, I can’t fathom what there wasn’t to enjoy. I recall I have a cousin thats a few months younger than me who also has two sisters a few years older than me. Let’s see… when I visited them, they were entering their 7th year of school, meaning that they were five years older than me. I also remember an assortment of other kids… Boys and girls that I would play with. I have no idea who they were, but they must have been some sort of relatives. In short though– it was fun! I remember we used to go to the beach a lot and have picnics~ I think we even went to some parks a few times to play (poorly) cricket.
That’s all the memories I have of them though. My parents keep contact with their siblings from time to time through the phone. I’m usually not included since I was just a little kid back then and no one really knows the type of person I have become. Of course, since they were poor families, we don’t really get any photos or online correspondence. One of them tried to establish contact via email once but it soon became forgotten as their Internet there is a piece of junk and probably metered. There is a little hope though… One of my Mother’s brothers (or does she have only one brother? I honestly don’t know) is trying hard to come to the United States. I really hope he succeeds, because the thought of his grandchildren and my children growing up together makes me really happy.
But yeah, fast-forward to life over here, in the United States. I’m miles away from my homeland and from the culture that my relatives partake in. Believe it or not, America does have it’s own culture, even if it is not obvious because of its huge influence on other countries. You know its pretty hard to grow up in an environment that is the polar opposite of the one the rest of your family is from. Different culture, different traditions– I don’t know such things from my roots because I have not experienced them. I’m not saying I’m unhappy though; I live in an air conditioned house with stable Internet, I study at an academically inclined university, I never have to cook any of my meals… I am saying however, that it is hard being first generation. I can’t compare to the difficulties my parents faced of course, but I do have my own set of challenges. I suppose breaking out of the sub-par lifestyle was phase 1 (done by my parents)– phase 2 is establishing oneself into the new environment (my job).
All of us have suffered difficulties though. I’m hoping my family is not cursed or something, but parts of my childhood were pretty bad. My father used to work for Enron… Well, anyone living in the US probably knows what happened to that company. The higher ups were hoarding the money for themselves and pushing the losses down to the employees. Finally, the whole company collapsed one day and I remember the news showing hundreds of employees coming out of the building with boxes in their arms– the belongings they had when they worked there. All this because of a group of higher ups who decided to get greedy. This event set off a chain of moves by my family. My father was lucky– he was not laid off because of his work, he was transferred to Omaha, Nebraska for Mid-American Natural Gas. We were unhappy living there, but in short, we moved a few more times. Each time, we would build a house, move all our belongings into it, only to move out and sell the house. To this day, my room looks even more barren than a hotel– I don’t put anything on the walls or anything.
Am I bitter? Of course I’m bitter; my life was ruined because a few key people made bad decisions. Moving almost every year may not seem like a big deal, but you also need to take into account everything you leave behind. I started out an extrovert when I was little, but now I’m more of an introvert (though trying to break out of that shell). Why? I theorize that it is because I had to leave my friends behind each time. Back then, little kids didn’t know how to text message or email (instant messaging wasn’t even well established yet) like they do now. What’s worse is that a similar thing happened to my mother, though not as Earth-shattering. She used to work for Washington Mutual. All of a sudden, boom… the bank collapses in one day and gets bought by JP Morgan Chase because the higher ups did a similar thing. This theme has actually been recurring in my life in other ways too which I would rather not post, even on my blog (where I post everything).
But yeah, it’s pretty tough being first generation, especially since we have such rotten luck at such a critical time for our family. I’m often annoyed at how much harder that I have to work for many things. How things such as college work? I have no one to ask. Celebrations? Either with my nuclear family or not at all. Money? I probably get 20$ tops for my birthday. Point is, we don’t have relatives for knowledge, conversation, or financial support. I have to discover/pave all these things myself, and it tees me off that my younger brother will have an easier time than me. I haven’t mentioned him yet? Probably not. As of right now, he lives a pretty different life than me and has a different group of friends. If you were to put him and me side by side, he would probably look a lot more “Americanized” than me. He was too young when we used to move a lot and all the mistakes made in my life have been corrected in his. It’s a little irritating. In fact, I’m even sometimes reluctant to help when my parents ask for my knowledge in order to help him. At the same time though, if I withhold valuable information for him, no matter what my reasons, will I not be fueling a vicious cycle that would spawn a bitter offspring wanting to do the same, year after year?
Oh well, I guess I should just keep my eyes forward, on the future. You just can’t help but think sometimes, you know? I’m really not one to think about the past much. It’s pretty much shredded and fragmented to such an extent that I can barely remember the faces of my old friends and get confused when I think about the layouts of my previous houses. In fact, its a pretty untouchable subject for me since I’ve more or less detached it from my life (to the extent that I refused to add old friends to my Facebook on the grounds that we were no longer the same people that we were seven years ago). What does remind me about my life (in general) from time to time is my parents’ struggles with their health. Not so much my Mom right now, but my Dad concerns me at times. He has always had a Hypothyroid condition and a tendency to get mad at little things with explosive fierceness. I’m not exactly sure if the two are related just yet. Lately, I feel that he is getting more and more harsh when he yells. I’ve accepted the fact that he yells because I know that his intentions are good and that he is trying to tell me a message in a way that he cannot control. Sometimes though, it just feels like too much. You try getting yelled at for a few minutes, being insulted for every detail that comes to mind. No matter what the intentions, the ends just don’t justify the means because of the human quality of emotions.
I do love him though. I already plan that one day, when I have my doctor’s office, I will have a plaque in the front lobby reading along the lines of , “This facility is dedicated to <Father’s name> and <Mother’s name>, who never once hesitated to sacrifice anything for their child.” Of course, when I am in a bad mood in regards to my Dad, I sometimes mentally think that I’ll change the wording to the lines of “This facility is dedicated to <Father’s name> and <Mother’s name>, who, despite being a collective pain, never once hesitated to sacrifice anything for their child.” I mean that in a playful way… Honest! Disaster almost struck though when in my Junior year of high school, my father had a heart attack. After doing heavy yard work, he complained about chest pains. Being a scientifically inclined student from the start, warning bells went off in my head– symptoms of an upcoming heart attack. I warned him to get it checked of course, only to have him show off more symptoms… Denial. Nonetheless, my mother took him to the Cardiologist the next day. I remember clearly– I was working on a physics group project at Panera Bread, researching Black Holes and Quasars. When I got the chance, I called my mother to check up on how everything was going, just to be sure.
Over the phone she seemed relieved, and told me, “Yes… Everything will be fine now,” which bothered me a bit. After getting home… Is a blur. I’m not sure who told me or how I found out. I remember my Mom crying? All I know is this: My father was going to take a nuclear stress test, which is when they inject a chemical into the person and have them run on a treadmill at varying speeds. The doctors would trace the chemical to determine the health of the heart’s vessels. At the beginning of the test, he was clearly told to say “stop” if he has trouble breathing/keeping up. The first few phases were fine. During the middle of the next phase, my dad suddenly yelled “STOP!” with a wheeze of breath and collapsed onto the now shutting off treadmill. He then went into Cardiac Arrest. The nurses/technicians were freaking out since the facility was supposed to be only a lab-work site.
A few minutes later, my father went unconscious. During that time, someone had grabbed defibrillator and tried to revive him. I believe it was the first two attempts that failed. During the next attempt, his eyes fluttered open, and he was stabilized. It was at that time, my Mom told me, that I called her on her cell phone asking, “Hey Mom, is everything ok?”
It was pretty intense for me to hear that story, but think about my mom who had to watch her husband go through that. I remember thinking it at the time, and I still do, that it sounded like it was from a movie. It was no script though, and I didn’t embellish a single part of that story, even the phone-call part. Of course, my Dad didn’t remember anything either.
You know, as humans we are pretty strange creatures. Dumb too, in a way. Even if one denies that his chest pain is bad enough to signal an upcoming Heart Attack, what’s wrong with making sure? The worst that’ll happen is that you wasted your time getting it checked. Consider the alternative: You actually get a heart attack. No second chances there. To this day, my father prays every day as a thanks that he has this second chance to live. As my Mother said, “it was not his time yet.” No, my parents are too ambitious, and God must have seen that it would have been too cruel to halt all the work they have done in the middle. That’s how humans are– sometimes thinking isn’t enough. Sometimes words aren’t enough. It is action and happenings that finally ring a bell in one’s life to reinforce their dreams. Heck, look at me now. I’ve spent a few hours writing this post and I simply can’t be mad at my Dad for yelling at me this evening anymore. I just had to be shown once again how far we have come as a family. Despite the fact that sometimes I feel like the oddball of the family, despite the fact that my parents rarely take interest in my hobbies because they came from technologically deprived backgrounds, I know that ultimately, we will always move forward with the only family we have– Each other.