Thursday, August 12, 2010

Living the American Dream

There's been a lot of talk in the news about immigration lately.  From all this business in Arizona to all the attacks on the 14th amendment.

I'm not going to wax poetic about why all of these recent events are just so wrong, but I do want to say that it's a shame that families and especially children are being attacked in all of this.

But I have been thinking a lot about a lot of the reasoning behind families immigrating into the United States.  Specifically, I've thought a lot about the American Dream.

Part of what I understand to be the "American Dream" is that the United States is the "land of opportunity."  Opportunities for jobs, better education, better standard of living.  Who wouldn't want something like that for their children?

Thought I think there's something to be said for finding ways to improve ones situation, I also think there's something to be said for absolute desperation.  There is desperation in abandoning all that you've ever known to go to brave a new world.

Don't get me wrong.  My mom and I moved to Los Angeles from the Philippines when I was 4 years old after being petitioned by my dad who was already living here with his family. We were lucky to already have the family connection, but I'm sure that part of the reason for moving to the U.S. was for that "American Dream."

The "American Dream" never felt so real for me until I was home in Los Angeles after our trip to Greece.

There's been a lot of movement and moving around in our house.  The weekend I was home, my siblings were also home, and my dad came home from working in Fresno.  But on Monday, I got to see how the regular day to day played out.

One of our cousins live with us, and she works the night shift.  My mom wakes up early to head to work, and gets home usually in the afternoon.  My dad is gone during the week, having been placed in Fresno, about 3 hours away.  My brother is living in Irvine, working hard and occasionally coming home on the weekends.  My sister is in San Francisco for school.  And of course, I am 3000 miles away in Boston.

Now, being home in Los Angeles for me is a constant string of questions starting in "When" and ending in "are you moving back home?"

I constantly have that question playing through my mind, especially being unemployed.  Watching my mom and cousin go through the motions of their days was somewhat eye opening.  I have always imagined our house as constantly lively, loud with laughter and smelling of Filipino cooking.  To see that it was more subdued and quiet, and perhaps even lonely, made me realize why I was always asked the same question over and over.

But, I ask, isn't this just part of the "American Dream?"  To have your children grow up, go to college, and find careers?  And isn't part of that experience to have a nice house that is basically empty because you've done your job of rearing your kids to get involved in higher education, have various job opportunities, and raise their standard of living by owning their own empty house one day?

Obviously, no one has to live up to those specific ideals.  But I do feel that it's one of the residual parts of attaining that dream, a part that no one really thinks about.  Interestingly, I do know that it is also portrayed in the media, but they mainly show you the young person's perspective as that is who they're marketing to.

So, here I am, back in Boston, living out that "American Dream."  I wish it was more like those movies, where I get to go home to do my laundry, or I go to visit my crazy family and some hilarious series of events happen which lead to someone finding the love of their life for the movie.

Instead, some of the joys of "being an adult" and being on my own is coupled with some of the loneliness of being away from the family and knowing that some of the family is away from the home.

Do you think new immigrants are aware of that part of the dream?
Living the dream

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