Passing through Uniqlo a couple months ago, I saw a T-shirt proclaiming “The New Standard Family,” carefully cradled within x-ray hands. I’m unsure exactly what Undercover’s Jun Takahashi was trying to point out, but something resonated with me in this simple garment. I snatched it on-sale a week later (sadly I guess the general public didn’t understand this nicely thought out collab but whatevs… more for me and my kin!). During its third or fourth wear, Hurricane Sandy hit. I was sitting in my living room with Christian, my roommate of three years, and Adrian, one of my best friends and fellow Fort Greene resident. Sitting there, with this slogan emblazoned across my chest, everything became very clear. Something I’ve felt all along was literally on top of me: blood has nothing to do with family, certainly not anymore. Not to downgrade my beloved blood relatives but my brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts live all around me. Since I was young my immediate family has been spread out all across the globe starting with a brother going to a school 6000 miles away and culminating in the current status quo of said brother teaching English in Thailand, a sister learning Mandarin in Beijing, a mother creating jewelry in London and a father defending citizens, both law abiding and not, in Hong Kong. I’ve encountered my extended family through this strange magical mystery tour called life, and I’m sure more will come out of the woodwork as my river meanders its course through this planet (and maybe beyond?). Sometimes I lie in bed awake at night, unable to sleep and feeling all alone in a giant world. Sometimes I’m grateful for these moments of solitude but I’ve learned to never accept a feeling of loneliness, there is always someone there; I just have to reach out and connect. We stem from a living, breathing, interconnected, commonality: our sentient thoughts.
As much as I may complain about social media, Facebook, Skype, Twitter and the like, the internet not only brings us together but it keeps us there. During Sandy’s violent rampage along the Eastern Seaboard I kept up to date with the news in my very personal social network. We watched in collective horror as familiar buildings lost facades, Con-Ed stations blew up, streets and subway stations flooded, and yet we could remain re-assured that our loved ones were safe. The following day we were left to survey this great city we call home. New York City isn’t like anywhere else, it is the world’s city. What we witnessed has shaken us to our cores. We are not invincible. We are just like the Titanic, seemingly indestructible yet so, so destroyable. Not to be a Debbie about climate change, I’d like to spotlight the effect it had on clarifying the realities of this new standard family. This tragedy broke down the silly barriers that separate us from one other. Personally it allowed me to see how lucky I am, to have such wonderful souls around me, people that stick through it all like bedrock. Yes, you can’t cut a bloodline but you also can’t cut life experiences. We make our individual families, these circles interlink with others and without realizing it we exist in one globally interlocking family. So despite different opinions and ideologies, why can’t we all realize we are just a bunch of cheesy relatives fighting over the same remote control?
Love you as always,