I am in Singapore and everything is good. I am on the patch, surrounded by more family than I have seen in many years, and I am managing some pretty decent behavior thanks to (a) The Patch (b) the Singaporean lifestyle of eating every 20 minutes and (c) my mantra of this trip, and maybe of 2009 is AA: not Al-Anon, but Acceptance and Affirmation.
Little Brother and I had a long chat the night before I left on this trip. I was freaking out because he's not here with us yet--joining us in a few days--and I wasn't sure I would be able to handle it without him. I have big issues with my parents because I feel like they can't accept me as a person, that they only see who they want to see, and are upset at all the things I'm not. I told him how I wished we could have the kind of relationship I see that so many of my friends have with their parents, and he pointed out that Mom and Pop just aren't like that, and that I'm guilty of the same kind of thinking--being upset at them for not being who I want them to be, and that I have to accept them for who they are.
Like, whoa, Little Brother. How did you get to be so damn smart?
So that's what I'm doing on this trip with my folks, and it's actually a perfect time, because I'm seeing them in their natural element, and realizing how weird it is that they live in Illinois, after growing up in such a lush little island filled with people who look and talk just like them, where it is 80 degrees and there are delicious things to eat all the time. I mean, what the hell were they thinking moving to Chicago? Whenever we come here, I can't help but wonder what a different person I would be if I had grown up here. I wouldn't wander around feeling so out of place all the time. I probably wouldn't have this perpetual fire under my ass, running around looking for that perfect place where everything would feel comfortable and fine. I would probably be one of those people who've never left Singapore my entire life. I would speak this language that everyone else in my family speaks. I'm just beginning to realize how out of place I've always felt, even in my own family.
Neither of my grandmothers recognized me. It's been nine and three years since I saw either of them. The other one was unexpected.
I greeted her, hugged her, and had the following exchange:
She said, "Seriously? Is this Seriously? I don't recognize you!"
"What? Really?" I said. "But I called you Ah Mah (grandma)!" (and she has only one granddaughter)
"I just guessed!"
I had to laugh.