Yeah, so I stole that title from Coldplay – whatever. It’s still true. The life lives. Amazing how quickly these past two weeks have gone. Between being back at work and being engrossed in the Olympics, my life has whirled right on by. Not to mention, I’ve been deeply engrossed in Breaking Dawn – the final book in the Twilight series.
So much I have wanted to say, but never remembered to write it all down. Like…how cool it was to have someone from China watch the opening ceremonies with me. She was able to answer so many of my questions – and there were plenty of them. She sat with eyes glued to the TV because she had friends who were attending the ceremony. It truly was a surreal moment.
Cut to the guilt I soon felt. I’m not sure anyone will quite understand why I have guilt, but I do. Guilt because I know a tiny fraction about my culture. Just a teensy bit. I feel quite un…authentic. Sure, I know what my last name means in Cantonese…to not wear red to a funeral…but you must wear red to a wedding (for good luck)…to celebrate a baby’s one-month birthday…to have a candy wrapped in red paper, and glued to a coin wrapped in white at a funeral. But those are simple traditions – and quite frankly, for me, learned behaviors.
No one knows that it wasn’t until late in junior high that I began to fill in the bubbles marking myself as Asian on standardized tests. Until then, I always marked the Caucasian bubble, and only that bubble. I always thought and considered myself as such since I knew nothing about being Asian. I’m 50/50, so I went with what I felt like I should be – white… Why the change? Well…simply…college and scholarships. Being a minority opened up even more doors and opportunities.
How much of my story – my ancestory story – do I know? Very limited. Whatever information I gleamed from my Grandma Yee was over 15 years ago when I needed the background on her pilgrimage for a scholarship application. I never really had much interest in knowing more. And now, now that I can’t learn from the source, I want it. I yearn for it.
Having Carol in the house has made me realize just how badly I want to know my roots. I’ve never had the desire to visit the homeland. Not really. It isn’t up on the top of my list. And I think it’s because I’m scared…ashamed…guilty. I’m afraid that once I get there, I’ll be chastised for not knowing customs…traditions…things that generations upon generations know. People will scoff at me for being westernized. And on top of it – I’d feel awkward and out of place. Yet again, obviously aware that I am different than the majority…and this time, because of the whiteness factor.
I’m hoping that while Carol becomes immersed in the American culture during her stay, she will afford me the same opportunity to immerse myself in our Chinese culture. I am trying to balance our activities so they are new and exciting to both of us. She is just as eager to teach as she is to learn. And she’ll have her chance to school me in our traditions…next up, the Moon Festival in September.
There’s still more bouncing around in the recesses of my mind, but it’s just too cumbersome to wade through right now. I’m just glad I was able to purge some of it from my mind. Maybe now I can get to sleep without any help from Tylenol PM 🙂