You stay classy, San Diego

Here was an entry I started on my trip to San Diego a few weeks ago that I wasn’t able to post then:


I’ve been in beautiful San Diego for the past four days now and I’ve tried numerous different ways to insert “A Whale’s Vagina” in casual conversation, but my conscience will not permit me to do so.

Its always good to see my extended family despite the fact that with distance, time and immediate families of our own, its harder to connect on the same levels that we used to.

I continue to marvel at how in God’s sovereign grace, my mom’s family’s immigration experience included South America. On the surface, we have quite a respectable-seeming lot: doctors, dry cleaners and teachers… yet bubbling below there is an oft-untapped resevoir of inexplicable latin craziness.

A story to illustrate: some of my cousins were waiting in line to use the bathroom at one of the cocktail parties when one of my uncles walked in and jumped the line in fully korean-style. One of my older cousins remarked, “He’s old and has a weak bladder, so we should let him through.”

And without even blinking my 40 something year-old Korean uncle retorted in his light Korean-accent, “Its not cuz I’m old, its cuz I have a big %$^%.” No joke. And this was before the drinks were even served.

I guess perhaps I could have some of that lingering inside. Maybe I have a little Paraguayan party animal lurking, waiting to escape. I thought it would rear its head this weekend, but it didn’t. I did enjoy seeing inebriated Korean men in suits breakdancing. I think I could have done personally a better job, but I restrained myself. I was protecting the hearts of the women.

I love my family. They are weird and we are very different. Some of us grew up in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, some in the Suburbs of Chicago, some in the metropolis of Seoul.There are some parts of my family that are so funny, poetic. My uncles used to sell tomatoes on the streets of Buenos Aires, getting to the farm at 3am to get the best, ripest tomatoes and sell them… now many of them are millinoaires celebrating their nephews wedding over expensive hour de vours in modern art museums overlooking the pristine blue pacific ocean at sunset. Is that not the epitome of the American dream? Yet, there is also some extreme sadness and tragedy, some readily apparent and others clouded by time, swept under the rug. I think about some of the joyous family occassions in recent memory, weddings, births, birthdays, in the midst of all the celebration, there is a slight tinge of bittersweetness each time… for the people who should be there but aren’t with us, for the people who are there tho we wish weren’t, for the things that were said or left unsaid, for the small frustrations of life that have festered for years or even decades so that in the darkness they’ve turned into a tangled mess of slimy tentacles with prickly little hairs.

I guess the difference between weddings and funerals in my family is that at the funerals, that bittersweet feeling is an unfiltered, overwhelming quantity, whereas at these weddings, you only feel the occasional pinch. Trying so hard to celebrate with those who are rejoicing, yet sometimes the very object of joy becomes a painful reminder of things lost. That’s hard.

When we are together I think its hard not to feel the weight of history pressing on my shoulders.Maybe that’s why this year, I didn’t set foot on the dance floor. But don’t let this sound melancholy, its not all bittersweet…. there’s also some genuine celebration…. especially the nostalgic stories over 3am burrito runs.

I guess that’s probably how it is with every family. And probably every family thinks of themselves as simultaneously uniquely awesome and disfuncitonal at the same time. But I think my family takes the cake.


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