Subject This September
DateCreated 9/24/2007 7:52:00 AM
PostedDate 9/24/2007 7:25:00 AM


The obligatory birthday blog. Usually a time to write about having been surprised with a present or maybe what’s all happened over the last year. Or the things in life that I long for but haven’t accomplished yet. All the usual stuff that I start to think about when September comes around.

But this is the year of the past catching up to me. Starting with an email from a friend I hadn’t talked to in twenty years and ending with finding out one of my little brothers is in Iraq. It’s hard to think of the usual stuff when the life of two decades ago has crashed into my day-to-day.

Suddenly there were so many questions in my inbox. From my childhood friend: Do you remember me, we used to be friends in elementary. Do you remember that place by the school we named after the book we both read? Yes I remember.

From my father: Do you remember how we used to play the chasing pigeons game in Bronson Park? Do you remember that song I used to sing to you when you were sad? Do you remember family weekends in the mountains of Bogor? Yes I remember.

A message from across the ocean connected me with my long-lost father and a family I never knew I had, though they’ve known about me. A little brother and sister that talk to me on the phone in a language I can’t understand. And a step-mom who sent me a tall stack of Indonesian karaoke DVD’s, because I love music.

I wrote a long email about my life and most of all my wife (who essentially is my life lol) then braced myself for the reaction. My Dad, a man who lives in a country steeped in Muslim culture and tradition, would surely have an even more negative reaction to my relationship than my mother and brother who are from the US did. Or certain members of Jennifer’s family who for so long acted like I was a non-person or at best someone who was unwittingly dragging her into the eternal depths of burning hell by being in love with her.

So imagine my surprise when my Dad only had positive things to say about my wife, but was absolutely alarmed and horrified to hear that I had no intentions of going to college or having a big career…

‘You live in a country with full opportunity, why not take advantage of that opportunity?’ ‘You take very good pictures, why not open a studio?’ ‘I dream that you will continue your studies and get at least a masters degree.’ etc etc.

I guess I should have kept my house-wifeyness in the closet lol. Life is so weird and unexpected sometimes.

Then the shock of talking to my brother after years of knowing only vague bits and pieces of his life. How scary was it to get a call from Iraq and have him tell me about seeing someone next to him get shot by a sniper…

‘I saw a cloud of dust come from his chest and heard the shot after.’

…and think of how easily that bullet could have hit my little brother instead.

How can I write a blog about my birthday? How can I even concentrate on anything when the life of two decades ago is suddenly in my face? The reality of how I grew up, my mother constantly moving us from place to place and most of all the poverty. What it was like to never feel secure and always be hungry in one way or another.

The life I made a point of leaving behind has caught up to me. I don’t even know how to describe how overwhelming it is to feel so much heartbreak and happiness at the same time. It doesn’t even seem possible. This is where I find myself this September.