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What are we asked to shoulder? What items are tucked away in our nap sacks? What is it that you keep stowed away in tiny compartments and zippered pockets? What things do you slip into our satchels, unbeknownst to us?

 

I saw some of the extended family tonight. Sat there at the kitchen counter were cousins and uncles of my father. All Robinson, they reminisced over family and the current goings on of different extensions of the family. I had a glass of wine and listened, mostly I talked to my mom. It must be said that I don’t care much for that side of the family, but they are nice enough so I am not to bothered by their presence. That is until you get a bit of spirit into them, then their true colors come brimming out with such aplomb (sarcastic).

 

It was a conversation for my mother and I, but being Robinson’s gives them exclusive privileges to but in and give their two cents. Mom had informed me much to my surprise that my sister had bought another house, a house her husband had been saying they needed in Lou of the new baby. A house they can’t afford, a house that in my opinion they really don’t need. So I was talking exclusively to my mom, half jokingly, that it’s people like my brother in-law who are the cause for the housing bust and it’s honest people like me who are going to have to bail his sorry ass out. 

 

Enter extended family.

 

“What is this youthful, Liberal, Obama Hussein, Muslim, bullshit you’re talkin’ about.”

“You young kids are all the same. Don’t tell me you’re supporting that Muslim terrorist. All his fancy talk and smoke up your ass shit.”

“You liberal, Hussein, Bin Laden, Democrat, kids talking all your far out ideals and all that. Don’t tell me you’re gonna vote for that Muslim.”

 

Oh for Christ sake really? 

 

I was just talking to my mom about my sister and brother in-law over extending themselves financially, and this is what I get. I wasn’t even talking to them. I wasn’t even talking about that. I was discussing mortgages and housing prices and loopy brother in-laws.

 

The lines of dialogue(if you can call that dross dialogue) above are just some of the more tasty comments I endured. But it made me think. Anyway I thought about my adoption. I thought about a lot of adoptions, about the people who say they want to adopt, the people that say they would consider adopting, and those that have already adopted. I want to know what it is that you carry around with you and what is it that you will pass on to the children you adopt. 

 

As I sat through a thoroughly unjustified lambasting about my conceived political choices (I never once said who I associated with or who I intended to vote for, I guess they just assumed a young guy talking about current events must be some radical left wing extremist) and then tried to explain the mortgage bail outs and why they happened, I couldn’t help but think about what I was brought into. I mean look at this family, look at the mindsets that are prevalent throughout.

 

I was listening (well not actually listening) to someone who was clearly racist. I knew both sides of the family, mother and fathers, harbored some sentiments towards people of different races. I hadn’t seen it in years though. After my grandparents died and families kept in very loose touch, I really never saw too much of the extended family and therefore saw less and less of the racism and prejudice I had grown up with. Now I hate to actually admit it but I know that some of those blind prejudices in all likely hood reside within me. This is something I carry from years of exposure. 

 

I know my parents didn’t consider this when they adopted. They knew both their sets of parents were outwardly racist. They were from the old school or the old country or somewhere really old, so to them it was ok and therefore natural that they spoke outwardly about not liking people, for whatever reason. These were the people who I was entrusted for many an after school afternoon or even during the day when my parents worked. The family that was over tonight were the same people who I grew up around, when family gatherings were more frequent. The same people whom back in the day I would sit around the card table with or on the couch watching the game, listening and absorbing while they made off the cuff remarks about people of color. 

 

Now I know that they all love me, and on the outside they accept me. But what about when they got in their car tonight, slightly inebriated from all the drink, what is that they really say about me, about the first presidential candidate of color, about Spike Lee and his new film. (I doubt they know he has a new film but if they did what would they say) What words do they choose to use to describe us. 

 

But more importantly how does this impact me, a minority of color. Maybe a a better question is how has it already effected me. Years of exposure to this, a lifetime of being conditioned to think a certain way. How will I view myself or how do I view others. I just wonder if people consider what it is they carry with them. Whether it be racism, intolerance, hatred, whatever it may be, what is it that we all travel with and how will we pass it to our children. Especially our transracially adopted children. 

 

So just think about this. What tasty little pieces have been put into your satchel? What did your parents give you and what will you give to your children? Knowingly or not. 

 

p.s.

-lets not forget that as we get older and move from childhood to adulthood to old-folk-hood we get a better feel for the things we have strapped to our backs. Somethings we forget are there and some weigh on us heavier than others. But as conscious human beings we all have the ability to choose what we will take with us and what we will leave behind.

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Lately I have been going to sleep with the same thought buzzing through my head. “I hate myself” the voice says as I try desperately to lull myself to sleep. Now a days I have two fans buzzing and music playing to try and drown out these wicked thoughts and it works to an extent. But I can’t help but remember when I wake up each morning the last thought that went through my head was, “I hate myself”. 

 

Why?

Why is it that I think this?

Why is it that I feel this way?

 

I wonder sometimes within my conscience and some times aloud. How did it get this way. When did I become such a negative bastard. I try and look for the good, the purple patches, but all I see is a man who has nothing to behold. 

 

But who is it that I have become, besides a self destructing worm.

Who was the man before him?

 

I really can’t be bothered for answers. I seem to think that before all this went pear shaped I was living in delusion. Maybe I thought my position was higher than it actually was. But I can’t be sure and there in lies the problem. How do I know who I am or if I am being myself if everything I have based upon is so unsure. 

 

Am I am man of character and subustance?

Am I resilient with a persevering attitude?

 

Am I Korean, American, White, Brown, Adopted, Asian, Refugee, Orphan?

 

Well who the fuck knows. I surely don’t. For a long time I was told I was one thing, then I was told I was another, then another. Then after that I was told I wasn’t this or I wasn’t that. Each time my self image was twisted and bent. Previous tags had become null or repeated. Even more part of images seemed to overlap, whilst some were renamed and chopped and changed for others. 

 

So today I am left with a very dull and rather confusing image of who I am. Some will say that I should not listen to others and listen to my heart. Only there will I find the true image of who I am. My reply would be a thank you for the advice, but my heart has long since abandoned me and I suspect is on a beach somewhere in Croatia.

 

Croatia??? Why the fuck would it go there. Well it heard the beaches there are quite divine as are the women, and it is on the Mediterranean after all so the food is probably half way decent. So Croatia it is, let him be happy, God knows it was nothing but strife living with me. 

 

So the question still begs, how am I not myself.

I don’t know why I remembered today but I did. Maybe it was because I saw you today and I was thinking about you a lot. It’s odd because I see you often enough, so I don’t know why I thought of this. To be honest I had tucked it away because I was so shameful, I was so horrible. I really was a petulant and wretched little cunt back then, it is a wonder you are still my friend. 

 

I’m sorry.

 

I know I’ve said sorry to you before for acting like I did, but it shames me so much. I threw snowballs at your face, I pushed you to the ground, I called you those names. How could I. Standing right there in your face, laughing, I called you a gook, a chink, a jap. I am ashamed now for treating you like that and I was ashamed back then for being the same as you. 

 

We were kids, but that was no excuse for me to humiliate you like that. The names that other kids called me I just deflected onto you. I know you say that it didn’t hurt, but it hurt me well enough so I can only imagine how you must have felt. Maybe that’s why even today you try to fit in as much as possible.

 

Thats all I was trying to do, just fit in. I wanted to be just like all the other kids in our church school. Making fun of the funny looking Korean kids (we were the only ones), calling them names that didn’t make sense, names that we didn’t even know the meaning of. I wanted to be white and I most surely didn’t want to be different. So I picked on you. But picked isn’t even the right words, I was a monster. 

 

I’m sorry.

 

Then a few year later we were teenagers and I called you out of the blue. We rehashed a friendship that certainly shouldn’t have even exsisted. And you came to the formal with me. You were the first girl I really kissed and the first girl I knew I was in love with. 

 

We maintained our friendship all through high-school although it was hard with you going to a different school. And I still loved you, although I never told you and I would never have admitted it to myself, at least not at the time. I wish i had. I wish I had apologized to you sooner. I wish I wouldn’t have been so scared of loving you. 

 

I still remember lying on the living room floor, not knowing what I was doing, kissing you. Feeling simply over the moon that I was with someone who was like me, just like me. But feeling ashamed at the same time for being with someone who was just like me. Why did we have to know each-other under these circumstances. Growing up in towns where we were the only ones. In places where our parents wanted us to just fit in and be like all the other kids. Not just like them in that we played sports or went to summer camps or attended church school. But the same color of our skin, the same mannerisms, the same way of suburban thinking. If I had met you living in the city or even in a bigger town where everyone wasn’t so pale skinned maybe I wouldn’t have called you those names or pushed you into the snow. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so scared about people knowing I had kissed an Asian girl or even that I was in love with someone of my own race. Why did it have to be here, like this.

 

I’m sorry. 

 

How could a boy who from behind the same narrowed eyes say such dubious things. I don’t know. I hate myself for being ashamed of who I am, and I hate myself hating who you are. I wanted you to be white, I wanted to be white. Now what is left but a couple of kids who have grown apart, who by all accounts should have be closer. Back then we had it all going, everything except who we thought we had to be.

 

Like I said I don’t know why I was thinking of this or what brought back such memories. I suppose such atrocious things can not stay locked away forever. I truly am shameful and I wish I could go back and do it all over again. Maybe I would be happy now, maybe you would be happy too. 

 

I’m sorry.

I am sure no one asked her that day, she probably didn’t ask herself. That however is all I ever heard regarding my adoption. It was out of love I was given up, it was out of love that I was adopted into this family, it was out of love that I still exist today.

 

But why I ask myself. I have loved and I have been loved. I have bleed and I have cried over love. I elated and I hurt, all for love. Love is supposed to be such a grand thing. It is said to heal all wounds, but not this love. This love has cast open more pain than any sort of love is supposed to. It has lead me to believe that this is not love at all, that the actions carried out on that day had nothing to do with the notion of love. 

 

Where was the social worker, the nurse, the father, the lover, the sibling, the aunt, the grandmother, where was the person who asked her, do you love you son? Then why are you casting him off to a life of unknown? As his mother why will you not be the one to look over him, to protect him and guide him through a world full of what ifs? Do you love this boy? then why would you not endure the pain yourself in order to save him that extra bit of hardship that as an adult you know first hand this world is so good at dealing out. Do you love him? Then why…….why do this?

 

Maybe she asked herself these questions, maybe it hurt her to answer. It hurts me to ask myself. Did she love me? Then why? 

 

I used to believe in it, love that is, but now I am not so sure. I used to think that with love a person could do anything, could over come any hardship. But I just don’t know what to think anymore. I used to try and just listen to my heart, but its voice has become shrill and bitter. So I drown it out, lacking the necessary compassion to entertain its plea for sympathy. 

 

Because of love I cast aside family members and friends with a certain disdain. Because of love I hide deep within myself, scared to find out who I really am. Because of love I hold trust on a very short leash and dispense it sparingly. It is out of this act of love that I feel so alone. 

 

Now if by some slim chance you ever find this, no find me, I have but one question to ask you. Did you love him, then why?

 

I use the past tense because the man I have become today is nothing of the boy you produced all those years ago. No I changed the second I left your arms and care was relinquished over me. From that moment I was no longer a son for you to love unconditionally but an orphan to be prized by someone else. Yes a prize as it were, a prize going to the lucky couple from New York, yes the ones standing in the back. That is what I became the day you signed the papers, the day you signed my life away. 

 

Out of love was it. Out of love I got the college fun, the suburbs, the American values, the full belly and the nice clothes. Out of love I got racism, the cold stares, the butt of all jokes, the stereo type, the fear, the pain, and the longing. All of these things you gave to me out of love. Brilliant bit of business on your part, splendid job. 

 

We do a lot of things out of love, and as the salty little bits hit they keys, in my heart I am forgiving you out of love. As I readjust my contacts and blow my running nose I am realizing that no matter how much I hurt inside I will always reserve a bit of love for you. So when I ask you that question one day whether it be in this world or the next and regardless of the answer, I will be satisfied. Because past all the wreckage and the scaring, deep inside this heart of mine lies a little bit of love, saved especially for you.