i took a child development class last semester (infancy and childhood) and it had never really occurred to me until that class how much responsibility parents carry. how much we look to them; how much we blame them. our parents are the first people we officially meet. they are our first introduction to the human race and the social universe. they teach us how to be good, how not to be bad, how to be kind, how to get what we want in life, how to be graceful losers, and how to grow a phantom twin that’ll pick us back up when we’ve fallen and the ground feels too comfortable, softened by defeat. they teach us so many things, often without even meaning to.
we take from them their genes, their wisdom, their tempers. we learn to hate the parts of them that inconvenience or hurt us, yet always live in some kind of fear knowing that those same despicable traits are in us somewhere, nestled in between genetic codes, lying dormant until it decides to wake up and presumably ruin our lives. at the same time, we hope we gain their strong, positive qualities. like their infectious laughter or compassion or youthful skin or fast metabolism. we want to emulate the parts of our parents we love; none of the parts that reminded us that they, too, are human. we forget our parents are made of the stuff we are - rejection, disappointments, good memories of people who are now gone - that they have histories that precede us - and often broken ones. my own parents’ histories are filled with poverty and fatherless upbringings. it is under the weight of this that i see my own father struggle; even now, he is trying to be both the father to us and himself, at the same time.
bid my twin bro goodbye for his swanky new job in SF today. we’ve borrowed this new gesture. i think it says it all.
happy birthday, twin bro. as Alabama Shakes puts it in this song: bless my heart, and bless yours, too.
bless my heart
bless my soul
didn’t think i’d make it to 22 years old
I think it’s about time I talk a little bit about my twin brother. I think it’s only fair because we did share the first nine months of life sharing one cramped uterus and then the next 15 years after that denying any blood relation.
Let me tell you about my brother. He goes to Berkeley and gets upset at restaurants when they offer Pepsi and not Coke. He’s also colorblind (a trait I do not share) which is the butt of very many jokes. Sometimes I think God made him that way just so he could have a little chuckle every now and then. Sorry bro. The world is so serious and that’s why he made Kanye West.
Things We Have in Common:
A few days ago I was sitting with a friend eating candy (something chocolate-covered, enough said) and it was late at night so we were just talking about whatever came to mind, whether it was what sort of fashion trend we wish we could pull off, where we’d want to live after college was over, how much people would have to pay us to eat a whole bin of the food we hated the most, which movie star we’d like to punch in the face (Tom Cruise was a pretty common response, but so was John Mayer), etc. And so, in between mouthfuls of candy, she asked me, “Say you just published your first book. What is the first thing you would do?”
"It depends. Is it a best-seller?" AKA how many cosmic brownies can I buy with my first check? You can always measure your success in cosmic brownies. Or, for later on, can I finally buy a house in the alps with a custom-made Jurassic Park-themed nightclub? With guest rooms that will be suspended in the trees surrounding it and all of my friends will have to zipline to the common area. (If you don’t want to be my friend after you just read what I would do with a sizable amount of money, then there is no reason you should be following me on tumblr. Or speaking to me in real life.)
It’s my mom’s birthday today ya’ll! She’s, like, the prettiest person I know. Also her stare can bore holes like laser beams into my heart. She’s scary and hilarious (we had a very thorough debate once about how Barack Obama couldn’t possibly be the first black president, because according to her Abraham Lincoln was) and today’s her birthday! Wait, I already said that.
do you ever just think, I wish I could bottle up this moment, and things could be exactly this way — at least in this bottle, even if nowhere else — forever? And nobody would get any older, or wiser, or sadder, or angrier. And that version of ourselves would always just be there, not just a memory, but a real physical relic of a time when you wanted nothing more than where you already were, at that moment, and who you were already with. And you realize how rare that is, to realize you are not only content with what you have, but are incredibly, amazingly full as if that one, puny moment has given you an entire feast’s satisfaction. And you just want to keep it that way, for as long as you can. You want to stop time, because if you did that, it meant nothing would change. Nobody’s hair would fall out, nobody’s laugh would end, nobody would have to say goodbye to that moment, because when people do that, they don’t know they’re doing it for forever. That’s the thing they don’t tell you. You don’t realize that when you leave, you’ll never get it back — at least, not in the exact same way. Everything will have changed. You will get different versions of that moment, but never the same moment twice. You will try to restage that moment, but you will always fail.
And that when you leave home, they never tell you everything will still be there the way you left it. That’s because they know better. The world turns and dust covers everything you love and every day you get older and farther away from that person that you loved, that person that you used to be. That person that you so desperately miss.
But it was so good the first time, you’d think. It was just perfect back then. For once, you could think of nothing about it you’d wanted to change. And it was like the best dream, because all of it was actually real.
There are so many things I miss about home. I miss my mom’s cooking, I miss my family, I miss the endless buffet of coffee creamers in our fridge (we are coffee people, people!), I miss my parents, I miss my cousins and their hilarious banter, I miss my friends, and my grandma. My godmother gave me this amazing hug and didn’t let me go for like three minutes. I felt awesomely loved.
But it’s a weird feeling, inserting yourself back in their lives again. Sometimes when you get to that lull in the conversation you start to feel your irrelevance in what you’ve landed back into. And I’m back in my old room. I always feel like my room is a place genuinely frozen in time. I come back, and everything looks the same. All of my stuff is still on the walls, stuff cinched into every single crevice. It used to give me this sense of comfort, and it still does, I guess. But now I feel anxious. Knowing that I will be here for two or so months, I start to feel itchy on the inside. I start feeling like it’s a mistake.
Like, I went to church yesterday. For the first time since I left. And I found myself surrounded by these people I had grown up with, and I was reminded yet again of how I never really belonged there. You feel this distance with people that you try to cover up, except now that I don’t live here, I feel no need to pretend. That we don’t know each other. That we don’t really want to. I no longer miss the days when we were semi-close, and the slight sadness of how we all fell apart. Instead all I feel is relief I am out, and grateful for linoleum floors in the fall.
And I get angry with myself because when people ask me, How’s it like being back home? And I’m like, rad! But mostly, apart from loving being able to be with my family and friends, I am uncomfortable. But maybe that’s normal. Maybe I just need to get back into the groove.
It used to be that all our front yard ever grew were weeds. My mom used to fill up empty milk gallons and put them on our front yard to keep the dogs away, which made our yard even uglier. Then my parents saved up enough money to have some landscaping done. Gone was the dry, dead soil and the persistent weeds. What replaced it was lush, green grass and birds of paradise and brick red wood chips.
During the summertime, the grass would turn crispy and yellow from the dry and constant heat. My parents loved that yard, but my dad loved it most of all. Two weekends out of the month he spent a Saturday working in the yard, pulling out the weeds, trimming the grass. He used to wake us up in the morning, too, and we miserably dragged ourselves out of bed to help him pull out stubborn weeds in our backyard. We did this for years until we got older. We complained so much that one morning we woke up to see our dad working in the yard by himself, his face shadowed by his big straw hat, but still moist with sweat. We waited tentatively to see if he would come in and tell us to help. He never did.
I remember walking into the garage once and seeing the bags of fertilizer on the cement. My dad said that the grass was dying and that the fertilizer was needed. And my mom told him to be careful, to only give a little, to be patient.
A few days later we looked at the dead patch of soil that the fertilizer had burned through in our yard. The grass was lifeless and crumbled when you touched it. My dad touched his forehead while my mom scolded him about the fertilizer. “You put too much, and now it killed it.”
And I remember standing there, feeling sorry for my dad, and thinking how weird that was. That something that was supposed to make it better only killed it in the end. My dad loved that yard too much so he was generous with the fertilizer — which is what happens when you want to do right by something — and it only made it worse. Isn’t that what happens to us? When you love something enough, you don’t remember how to be balanced. Your emotions go from extreme highs to tragic lows. You can love something so much you smother the life out of it, even without meaning to. You think you’re doing right by something until you see the hole where your love had burned right through. You only see it then, the imbalance that made everything fall apart, when it’s already too late.