As you guys probably know, I’ve been at UCSD the last 3 weeks for a summer program thing. I have enjoyed almost all of it, as I’ve mentioned on Skype and stuff, particularly because I got to meet many different type of people. There is a diversity here that definitely does not exist in Arcadia. The last few days, I have already not been particularly excited about going back home, but today it seems to have hit me even harder. While not the cause of my semi-emotional-breakdown, the thing that probably triggered the existing thoughts in my head was a conversation between a few of the people in my class during the incredibly boring graduation rehearsal.
They were talking about their experiences at parties and stuff, including doing stupid things while drunk and just other things they do, a conversation which I clearly, could have no participation in. It’s not that I have a desire to get super drunk and not remember the events of a whole night or anything, but just listening to them made me realize the stark contrast between their lives and mine.
Tim was saying yesterday that he thinks the only really different thing about Arcadia is it being upper middle class. I almost completely disagree. Being able to drive down the street, and see almost all restaurant and store signs written in Chinese is not something that can happen in just any city in America. While I know that there are drugs/alcohol/parties and stuff in Arcadia, it is clearly not a cultural norm as it is elsewhere. It’s definitely not just about the drugs and stuff either; that’s just the most obvious example. Another pretty clear example is how much more aware people seem to be of national/political issues, topics which from my experience are rarely heard of in Arcadia.
The whole culture and atmosphere of Arcadia is just not the same as the rest of America. Think about it. How many Asian Arcadians do you know whose parents were born here? Almost everyone I know was either born in Asia, or had parents born in Asia. Off the top of my head, I can think of only one acquaintance of mine who has parents born here, fluent in English, and totally familiar with American culture. Yeah, there are nonasian people in Arcadia too, but as they are a minority, they visibly do not have that much influence over the overall atmosphere of Arcadia, a clearly Asian-dominated town.
I know that you’re supposed to be “prideful” or whatever in your background and where you came from, but honestly, I am not. Like I said on skype, most of the time I have no problem fitting in, but when I think deeper, there are inherent differences because of how different of a place I grew up in. Some people are fine with remaining in the whole Asian/American-born Asian way of life, but that is not me. What happens in China/Hong Kong/Taiwan is no more relevant to me than what happens in France or Saudi Arabia. It’s not just that, I think that my whole mindset/philosophy/interest is more American than Asian.
I guess that I kind of wish I was born and raised in a “typical” American family. But I know that I wasn’t, and that I can’t change that. My dad has warned me plenty of times that it may be difficult to fit into mainstream American society because I will probably be looked at as closer to the FOB’s than to Americans. And even if people don’t consciously discriminate this way, I still have grown up my whole life in an environment not like most people I will meet.
The other option is to just “embrace” my Asianess and just do what the path of a model Arcadian is. Go to a good school, study all day, get a fairly high paying job, marry an Asian girl, maybe have a kid, send the kid to an Arcadia-y school and continue the cycle. All while remaining contained in Asian interests, activities, and interactions. It’s a valid path, I guess, and it’s much easier, and may be more comfortable for some. But not for me. That’s not what I want to do.
That leaves me in stuck, in between two cultures, one that I would like to be a part of, but can never totally be in, and one that I wish to leave behind, but may never be escapable. And I don’t think that the Middle Way is the best path to take in this case. To forever be torn apart, in what might be described as isolation. That may be one of my biggest fears.