I Am What I Am

From that point, my life has gone pretty normally for someone in my position. I eventually found the right woman for me, and we have been married for two years now. My parents are both retired and living a decent life a few miles from where I live now. My grandparents passed away a few years ago, and we managed to take a trip back to Japan to see them buried with the rest of their family there. That was a very surreal experience in my life, heading back to where our lineage all began.

I grew up a standard southern boy, working in a Roofing and Siding company in Kentucky, and yet I was suddenly immersed in this side of my culture that I had never really experienced before. The formality of everything, the speed that everyone moved, the accent on politeness and not really revealing any emotional reaction to anything. It was such a night and day experience for me, and made me feel kind of bad deep down that I didn’t identify with it at all. I felt like I was somehow letting my heritage down by feeling that way.

But I could also tell that my parents were feeling just as awkward as I was. I had a feeling that maybe they also felt like they let down our heritage with the quick progression to the ways of things in the west, and lost track of what it was that my grandparents had brought over with them. After we returned to the states, they started to get a lot more involved in cultural events, and trying to reconnect with their roots, which I always found kind of admirable. I didn’t have that availability though, I think I was just too far disconnected.

When my wife and I had our first child, you could see some of my heritage washed away. Not that I ever would complain, my daughter is my life, but it made me think of this cultural melting pot that society is, where it’s really hard to identify yourself with just one thing. I was a Japanese American in the eyes of most, but that was simply because of parentage and skin color. My daughter may not even face that same label, and I kind of hope that she doesn’t, not that there’s anything inherently wrong with it, just that she’s an American.

I believe in our history and culture, but I also believe that we need to move on, and not look so much into the background of things. Sure, life had been hard, and my grandparents sacrificed a lot. But we persevered, and we continued on with the progression of our family, and now we have evolved. We are a new branch on the family tree, and though it may not be the most interesting life to share with people, it’s the one I have, and one that I’ve always wanted to get out there. Who knows? There may be someone else going through the same thing now.

Growing Up Southern

It may seem weird that my parents chose a place like Kentucky to settle down. Coming from imperial Japan, and then moving to the southern states. But, my dad got a degree in engineering, and this was the first place to offer him a real job. My mom went to work in an office for a local real estate business, but soon found herself as a stay at home mom when I came along. I’m not sure if she had her own career ambitions, but I’ve never heard her complain about how her half of life panned out.

My parents weren’t the overly strict stereotypical Asian parents that you’ve probably seen on television. I assume growing up in an environment where you really have nothing, they learned to appreciate the small things, and not worry so much about making sure I had everything there was. There was no late night math sessions, or ambitions of me growing up to be a doctor by night and lawyer by day. There were no cello or violin lessons, at least of their own accord. I took cello in high school simply because I loved the sound of it in general.

Throughout grade school, I never felt much different than the other kids in class. Sure my skin color was different, and I was plagued with some pretty thick glasses which caught the attention of local bullies, but that was no different than any other kid my age. I never really associated myself to any race, I was just a kid growing up in the south. It wasn’t until high school and I started to get my attention drawn to some of my female classmates that I felt a little on the outside looking in. I wasn’t a really easy time for me.

As most Asian stereotypes go, I’m sure you know about the one and Asian men, and of course that was a source of some constant joking in my developmental years. I even started to believe it myself. Yet, somehow this inaccurate assumption on the size of the hammer in my toolbox, you could say, really got in the way of any potential dating before I could even think to make my first move. I know, really personal information to be sharing, but hey, this is the internet, and I can hide behind my veil of anonymity.

It wasn’t until I almost graduated that I got my first girlfriend. Another girl in the school who wasn’t very popular, even though I thought she was the prettiest girl I ever laid my eyes on. She had a bit of a stutter when she got nervous, and I think the other kids in school saw it as some form of defect. I saw it as something that made her unique, and why anyone would want someone that was just like everyone else was beyond me. I spent the next three years of my life with her before she moved across the country, but we’re still friends.

This Is Me

I’ve always had it in my mind to write a blog one day. I remember back in my early teen years, when the internet was starting to get aboard the hype train, and everyone seemed to have their own website. Such a weird and wonderful mish mash of people across the planet, just sharing for sharing’s sake, and it was something that I always wish I had the capacity to do, but I could never seem to find that certain something that I had to bring to the table compared to other people. What did I have to say that was worth listening to?

Even now as I write, I wonder who will read this, will there be anyone out there who feels the same way I do, and are they trying to make their break into the public world as well? I suppose the best way for me to start in my journey of telling you all who I am, is to just go back to the beginning. So, I’m the grandson of Japanese immigrants, they came over to the US in the worst time possible, right before the bombing started that really strained relationships.

During this time my parents were really young, and began their life in the new world in an interment camp. It was harsh living, and a lot of confusion as my family was coming here to make life better, and immediately start off on the wrong foot. I’m not going to go into many details, but suffice to say that even with that awkward start tot heir relationship with the US, they still decided to stay and stick it out, which I’m sure couldn’t have been easy for them. But my family has always stuck out the rough parts to get to the greener pastures.

After that whole situation happened, it was still hard for Japanese immigrants to find a job in the country. Even with the surrender of our country, distrust was still at an all time high. My family moved to Chinatown in the San Francisco area, and my grandparents worked in a local laundry plant. General labor being one of the only jobs that they could easily get. As well, it was just easier to get work from “your own kind” at that point. It was a time in the history of immigrants in the country that was full of hardships.

But, my grandparents endured, and eventually we wound up moving again, this time to Texas, which is where my parents spent most of their teen and adult years, in separate families of course, don’t want to give the wrong idea. It was my dad who was along with my grandparents. He eventually met my mom while going to University, and being some of the only Japanese students at the time, they immediately clicked, and the rest of that story is kind of history. When they graduated, they married and moved to Kentucky, which is where I was born two years later.