If this isn’t your first visit to my blog, you may have noticed that my style of blog-writing is very blunt, honestly raw, and (to put it in terms of my theatre-brethren), very stream-of-consciousness. It may be hypocritical of me, but when I share a story on my personal blog (versus a professional online column like the Long Beach Acting Examiner or via website content at work), I tend to tell a story in words as I would say it aloud as if you were sitting next to me at a bar top. To me, this blog is similar to what happens when I’ve had one too many drinks and you aren’t doing anything but listening…
I’m a first-generation American, middle of three children, to a couple of folks that were born in the same country, but didn’t meet until they were both in the California. Being a first-gen kid is an interesting thing, and I’ve thought about it a lot over the last 13 years (since I moved out after high school), but with some new realizations in the last couple of weeks.
I’m getting married in a little over two months, and my wife-to-be comes from large family with many as many similarities as there are differences in comparison to my own. I’ve met members from four different generations on both sides of her family, and it’s quite an amazing thing to really take notice of. Recently, we had celebrated the birthday of one matriarch (on her father’s side), and at one point in the evening, we all gathered in one area of the house so that the parents could share stories of their father, the birthday celebrant’s late husband, so that the younger generations could learn a little more about their family history.
As interesting and engaging as many of the stories were, it was a little challenging for me as learning more about my fiancée’s family ignited the self-interrogative spark and I began thinking through my own family tree.
All four of my biological grandparents have passed, and truth be told, I never met my maternal grandfather because he never came to America and I never went there. My maternal grandmother, Mama, passed shortly after I turned eight years old, and my father’s parents passed in the first decade of this century.
Listening to the stories at that recent birthday party and looking around at the multiple generations and varying ages, with my upcoming nuptials on my mind, I can’t help but realize the magnitude of what I’m actually going to do (very excitedly, thank you very much). We want to have kids (but not right away), and as we’ve been planning our wedding, it really makes you look at your life and your friends, and as sad it is to say, forcing you to choose about who you can afford to invite. (This could be a perfect segue into why people should charge to attend their weddings instead of paying for their friends to come hang out, but that’s another story…)
I digress. First-generation American, getting married, kids. Yes, kids and passing on traditions. However, to pass on traditions there have to be traditions already in place. This is where I get tripped up. I’ve led an interesting life that has included a lot of firsts. I was a member of the one of the first-ever sixth-grade classes at Jack London Elementary (I think the time capsules we buried might still be by the flagpole, but I’ll have to look into that). I was a part of the first graduating class (yes, ever) of Deer Valley High School. (This would also make me the first mascot of DVHS, but I don’t think that’s recorded anywhere, and it was definitely before there was a wolverine suit, so it’s my word against yours, haha.) My dad did serve in the U.S. Army for a couple years before he was married, but I believe I was the first one to join the Navy. I wasn’t the first one in my family to graduate from college, but I am the first Beach Alumni (and my fiancée is also Beach Alumni, as are both her parents, and one of her brothers-in-law…).
Point being, all these firsts, thanks to the opportunities I’ve been privileged enough to grasp, are starting what could be traditions in the family that my wife-to-be and I will grow together. I don’t plan on forcing our kids into the Navy or to go to CSULB, and I definitely don’t plan on moving back to where they would go to DVHS like I did, but what I have to offer them is a very unique blend of American gumbo I’ve picked up over the years through several states.
Let’s just talk about sports. Here’s the list of where my fandom lies:
- NFL—SF 49ers
- MLB—LA Angels
- NBA—Los Angeles Clippers
- College Football—Oklahoma
- NCAA everything else (but primarily MBB and WBB)—LBSU
- NASCAR—Tony Stewart (yes, I’m calling NASCAR a sport…shut it)
And to think in a few months I’ll be living in the heart of Fighting Irish country, closer to Colts, Bears, Bulls, White Sox, and Cubbies fans…at least I already know my neighbors are NASCAR fans.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a wonderful example of carving your own path, traveling wherever the fair winds and following seas take me (Go Navy!), but now that I’m getting married, my perspective has drastically shifted and I can no longer float on the wind like a feather in Forrest Gump or like a plastic bag in American Beauty.
And this is where the oversized gold chains, mohawk, and poor fool pitying comes in—I’m the T in “tradition.” Where will our family’s traditions start? With my fiancée and I. With the ones that we share and tell them about, and you know what? Maybe they’ll change. I can’t say I’ll be a fan of all of the aforementioned teams together, I can’t promise that. Say for example, we end up having kids in Indiana and we start going to Bulls games, or Cubs game, or Colts games…those memories I could be making with my family could shift the thoughts I have now as we start our own traditions.
So yeah, I’m Mr. T in my future, and that’s no fault of anyone, that’s just how the decades and generations landed. Someone had to start somewhere, I just realized that that someone is me. I probably won’t go for the mohawk, but I may pity the poor fool who doesn’t realize that anyone could be that T in “tradition.” Don’t be that fool. Be that badass.