It’s so much easier to be on defense, than on offense. It’s so much easier to hate than to love. It’s always easier to be judgemental than open-minded; exclusive rather than inclusive. It’s so much easier for family to ruin you because they know you best. It’s easier to harbor resentment than truth. It’s easier to point out someone else’s flaws rather than your own. It’s easier to be far away than nearby. It’s easier to lie, but when consequences follow, it’s easier to lay blame. It’s easier to be a rival than a friend. It’s easier to face your troubles alone than ask for help. It’s easier to be alone than to invite others in. It’s easier to write an email than to call. It’s easier to stay busy doing things you hate than getting up the courage to do the things you love. It’s easier to have no time rather than to make time. It’s easier to dismiss the elderly or infirm rather than sitting with them and listening to their life-stories over and over again. It’s easier to go to great lengths to try to stay young than to grow old gracefully. It’s easier to throw difficult people away than to learn how to deal with them. It’s easier to turn away than to do something. It’s easier to ask for money than to earn it yourself. It’s easier to con than to care. It’s easier to disengage, disconnect, distance oneself. It’s easy to project your feelings onto someone else. These are the things I know for sure.
Sometimes it’s alright to be a little crazy. Dad, while arguing in the car with my mom raised up the car radio to full blast. Inappropriate? Sure. Immatture? You bet. But that’s what I loved most about my parents. When mom said no, Dad said maybe. When mom said yes, Dad said over my dead rotting corpse! They were two young Puerto Ricans trying their best to learn while raising two kids. And sure, Dad always wished I’d grow up to be a policeman just like him, but I couldn’t hang in that department. I wasn’t sporty or physical enough. But the things that Daddy taught made me made me brave and strong (even though I didn’t understand his methods). It was unorthodox the way we grew up: guns in the house, teaching me how to aim and shoot it at the age of eight, learning stealth methods with baby powder on pieces of paper. But it has always stayed with me. My favorite memory is when I got my first job at a department store. Having never really experienced racism, I had no idea what I was in for. After being trained for two days, I was put in the hats section and learned quickly that I was not fit for the job. The woman who managed me was white and said a lot of racist comments when I failed to show up for one of her scheduled days. I explained that I had not been scheduled and that someone must have changed my hours the following day. When the woman called me lazy and other things, I threw my name badge at her and told her to shove her job where the sun doesn’t shine. Frantic and disappointed, I called my Dad and told him word-for-word what had transpired. Without a hitch, he said, “I’m on my way…” and in record time, he arrived like a supreme hero. The coolest thing occured while on the ride home when he said, “You don’t need that job! F**k ’em!” This memory for me is the ultimate example of how my Dad taught me that he’d always have my back, no matter what the situation. Years later, I thanked Dad for giving me the confidence that I could figure things out for myself rather than expecting someone else to solve my problems for me. I love you, Dad.
Despite my mom’s current thinking that I’ve always sought my father’s love more than hers, I am primarily my mother’s child. We share the same Chinese horoscope symbol: the ox. We like the same movies, television programs, have the same taste in clothes and decor, and most of all enjoy our solitude. My interest in keepsakes, tracking my family’s history and scrapbooking are all thanks to my mom. Her impeccable record-keeping and patience are inherent in everything I do. These were skills that have helped develop and shape my career. My favorite memory of my mom involves her running up and down the aisle at PS #8 to capture me receiving the honor roll with an instant camera that in those days didn’t have auto-focus. She would attend almost every honor and credit roll session, made it to my nerve-wracking spelling bees, survived torturous assemblies, and made it to my horrific performance of The Charleston dance. Every time I saw her in the audience, I felt as though I were walking on a cloud. While most kids didn’t have the luck of seeing their parents EVERY TIME, my mom made it a point to always be there cheering me on. She did it for my sister too, no matter how tight the scheduling. I love you, too, mom.
But for some reason, as time rolls on, people change. I now know that my parents weren’t infallible. They weren’t superheros, just people. I learned that it’s easy to see their shortcomings and failures despite their major accomplishment in raising two pretty decent kids. I learned that being overprotective also helped me avoid major hardships early on. And even though I fought them tooth and nail over staying at a local college rather than going away, I now know that I was nowhere near ready to make such a leap. Parents know best…sometimes.
Some kids have it rough and have to experience this when their too young to understand it. It was great that my parents held out as long as they did. We had some great moments. That’s what it’s all about, after all. I received from both of these wonderful people the best that each could offer. Like Dad always sang (from the Rolling Stones) You can’t always get what you want…and I learned to understand that he was right. But divorce is never easy. I can’t think of the marriage as a failure either. Like Dickens wrote: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” But now I see that all of the carrying on, the power-plays, the doubts, the triumphs, the disappointments are what molds us. It is how we learn about life and its struggles. We learn to cope and to come to ourselves and face the facts. Hey, sometimes we grow out of love or we come to all there is to know about another person. Like a caterpillar, we morph and change into a butterfly to newer lessons and a broader view of the world. After my parents divorced, my mom learned to drive. My father came to religion, after fighting my mom about it for many years. Both were relieved of their stifling duty and forced obligations. They learned to live again outward, onward, forward.
Memory Lingers Longer than Bitterness:
Life marches on, flanked by happy memories. Experiences that I will always cherish. Our blessings in a spring rain, our family trips to Canada and Florida, playing matre d’ to celebrate my parent’s anniversary, dancing and singing around the house. These are the best memories. And memories, unlike love, never die.