So imagine this if you will. You have just been hired at a new job and you need to go get a physical done. You are at the doctors office in one of those rooms that have one “rolly” stool, a chair and a thing that looks like the love child of the futon your roommate slept on and your grandmothers plastic covered couch. You wait patiently and in comes a nurse. What would you expect her first words to be? “How are you feeling today?” “Do you have any allergies?” I would even expect the classic “What are you here for?” What you wouldn’t expect is “Oh aren’t you Cheri’s (my mom) son?” If that wasn’t awkward enough the follow-up statement goes something like “oh well I worked with your mom, well not with her she was in the ER and I was…….” (Those dots are me tuning out whatever she said).
Now I must stop here and note, for my mother’s sake, that this blog is in no way critical of her as a person, a mother, or her work. This is the simple case of living in a small town, not to mention being a minority, an Asian minority in a 90-95% white town. Needless to say, I stick out like Clark Griswold’s house on Christmas Eve. Currently, this is also one of the major issues that I currently have with church. Not THE CHURCH but church in Grove City, PA. I know walking into just about every church I will run into someone who either knows my mom, my dad, my two brothers, or myself. Probably right about now you thinking “Nate? Really? That’s your issue?? COME ON MAN!”
Here is my critical and cynical mind working. When someone comes up to me and says they know one of my family members really well, and goes on and on about how this happened, and then that happened and then well you know so and so, well then happen…. (again tuning out) this is where anxiety comes in. Well, at least I think it’s anxiety. I feel like I have to be friends with this person. That in some cosmic way now I am obligated to be friends, to interact, to smile at them every time we make eye contact, attempt to answer questions about my family, ask questions about their family. All of these things go through my mind. Unfortunately, I am guessing many of my readers are not minorities but for the few that are out there, I feel like it becomes that scenario where you introduce yourself and instantly the other person says “Oh I know someone who is Asian!” or “My cousin is married to a black guy and has some beautiful mixed kids.” And by saying this they have some how endeared themselves to you and now you are on a level playing field because the “know someone who is..” Again, this is my twisted cynical mind working so please work with me.
For those of you that don’t know, I lived in Nashville for almost four years. Full disclosure, the first six months were hell. I literally did nothing. I worked and then I watched the show “24”, the ENTIRE series (great show if you want to waste your life away). It wasn’t until I got involved in the church down there did things really change for me. (Jeremy if you are reading this, please comment and vouch for me.) I came out of my hermitville and got involved in life. The difference was that I was pretty much a nobody down there. There were no expectations when I walked into that church. I didn’t feel a cosmic obligations to instantly be friends with everyone who came up to me and asked me about so and so, because no one was going to. No, this was a chance to start fresh and carve my own path. I was attempting to explain this to a friend the other day. I used the terrible analogy of a wood carving. (HEY! I said it was terrible!) I explained that walking into a church in Grove City for me is like someone starting a wood carving project and then handing it to me expecting me to know what to do with it. I don’t know about you but I hate finishing work that other people started. You feel awkward, it’s never the way you want it to be, and not to mention the entire time you are thinking you should scrap the whole thing and start over. Walking into a church in Nashville was like starting with a fresh piece of wood and making it into whatever.
So back to my first post “Now What?” Honestly, I have no idea. Please Comment.