Featured photo image credit: Flickr user Tirzah via Creative Commons
My dad and I have this running joke. He makes fun of me for being just like him: cynical, lazy, opinionated, stubborn; then he tells me to learn from his mistakes and to never end up like him. I promptly retort with something along the lines of “It’s too late, dad.” Then we both laugh (which becomes eerily identical when we’re together) and both sorta look down at our feet with an understanding that there’s more truth to that statement than we’d both like to admit.
Well, as much as I dare to admit, my parents are my bestfriends. Not only did they choose to not abort me, a real life decision my mother was faced with when pregnant at 16, thanks mom, but they have always treated me like an actual human being. A human being with thoughts, emotions, fears, desires, and opinions. When I decided to become a vegetarian at the mere age of 13, they helped me figure out how to do so healthily. Or when I asked my dad, as a 15-year-old, if I could pierce my nose on a vacation in Mexico, he only slightly grimaced at the thought and took me to the piercing shop. There’s so much I owe to these two people, just my personality alone I can attribute to their genuineness and sarcasm. I wouldn’t want anything else but to be like these two amazing people.
Except for one thing.
Back when my mother was going through her first divorce, I moved from Texas to California to accompany my father while he was going through his first marriage. It’s funny the way things work out that way, how my parents went through transitional phases of their lives simultaneously. Soon after, my dad got a divorce, while my mom was approaching her second marriage, marking yet another parallel in their lives. This time I didn’t move. I stayed in California, and lived out my most dreadful, angsty teenage years with my dad. Just me, him, and the girlfriends that came and went. Some more serious than others. Some crazier than others. I was well aware that my dad’s first marriage left him afraid of commitment. Who was I to judge?
Similarly, my mother went through another divorce and another marriage. My father, now engaged to a beautiful, caring woman, has never been happier. I’m incredibly proud of my parents and their ability to finally settle down – at least that’s what we’re all hoping for. And again, who am I to judge if it doesn’t, if they end up with another divorce under their marital belts? At least they have always had the ability to realize when they are unhappy and act upon it.
Yet, when I start to think of the role models I have in my life, I get nervous on the depictions of love and relationships that surround me. The ones I grew up with. Divorce is a common word in my family, uttered from grandparents, to uncles, to cousins, and everything in between. For a variety of reasons that no one understands, hardly anyone can just get it together and stick with one partner.
Right now, my anxieties shouldn’t matter. I’m in my 20s! I’m supposed to fuck up in relationships so I can learn, grow, and experience; at least that’s what everyone says. Yet, practically every time I log into Facebook I’m bombarded with engagement photos, couple pictures, or the cringe-worthy relationship joint Facebook accounts (meet the Smiths!) of twentysomethings like me. Most of the people I grew up with back in Texas have children and families of their own. Sometimes it feels like social media is trying to tell me something.
With every year, relationships will get more and more serious as we approach the what-if questions of living together and marriage. Maybe the point of it all is: if you don’t necessarily have the depiction of relationships you want from your role models, make your own. No matter how hard it is, I’ll always try to lick my post-relationship wounds, and take into consideration what I do or do not want in the future. In the meantime, I’ll take any advice my parents are willing to give, because they’re my parents. With every passing relationship, I grow increasingly sympathetic and start to commend my role models, because this is actually really fucking hard, I can’t believe people actually do this and survive.
Small-town West Texan girl turned Bay Area brat, when I’m not romanticizing my next love affair – or thinking about eating a grilled cheese – I’m knee-deep in academia (sometimes referred to as Netflix). Now in my Senior year at UC Berkeley, with a double major in Film Studies & Rhetoric, I can’t help but to contemplate what the next move is in my life; usually taking the form of writing endlessly about my feelings, which I have a lot of, by the way. As an aspiring screenwriter, my overarching goal in life is to make a change in someone’s life, in hopes that my stories can at least help one person. Hell, if they can even help me, that’d be success in my eyes. Meanwhile you can catch me around local cafes, venues, or art shows, meeting new people and places in a constant search for inspiration. Dumb jokes, new shoes, & hugs from my parents are what keeps me going.