Last Friday my mother called to ask if I’d be coming home for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year, as this is my first year living 3,000 miles from them. I told her that I’d be coming home for Christmas but not Thanksgiving. In that moment, a shot of adrenaline sped through my system, and as I tightened my neck to prepare for the worst, I added as quickly and as succinctly as possible, “I’ll be in India over Thanksgiving”.
To understand my cringing response to delivering this awesome news to my mom, you need to know a little bit about my history with my parents. To put it in a sentence, they have never supported me in anything that is even mildly unfamiliar, risky, dangerous, or adventurous. I’ve done my best to live my life seeking those activities that embody those qualities, which, as you can imagine, has left me quite unsupported from my parents.
As young as third grade, I remember my first independent initiative was the desire to join the school band. Our school had recently offered open enrollment for band and orchestra for certain instruments, and when I heard that they were offering saxophone spots, something in me sparked. I’d later become quite familiar with this spark and to interpret it as “I don’t know why, but I want to do that!”
I got the required form, filled it all out and took it home to my parents. All that stood between me and a lifetime of playing the sax and being the coolest cat on the block was their signature. Surprisingly to me, they weren’t as enthused as I was with the idea of playing the saxophone. Maybe they didn’t understand what a saxophone was or what a school band was. I can’t quite remember the exchange that occurred between us, but I left accepting that I wouldn’t be joining band or playing the sax. Maybe I should have fought harder at the time, but there’d be plenty of fighting in the years to come.
Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. There would be plenty of arguments over the years, but not quite about things that I wanted to do. As I grew older, I slowly realized that I could do the things I wanted to do without them, except when it came to things that required more funds than I could muster on my own.
But with most things, the basic formula was this: Don’t ask them for permission, and if they ask, tell them after the fact. By then, they can’t do much fussing about it.
When I wanted to start riding a motorcycle, I did it all without them knowing. After about 6 months of owning and riding a motorcycle, I decided to sit them down and just tell them.
When I was leaving for Europe, I called my dad from the terminal minutes before boarding just to let them know that I was leaving the country, in case anything terrible happened.
When I decided to up and move out to California, I told them after I had gotten a job and worked out all the details for the move.
And this time, just as all the other times, I already had a plane ticket to India in hand before telling them I was going.
Luckily, this phone conversation occurred during dinner with friends, so I used that as an excuse to end the call quickly with my mother, but I knew that after I had hung up the phone, worry and trouble was about to brew back east. Over the course of the weekend, being busy and all, I had missed 4 calls, 2 voice messages, and an email, which basically stated that they thought it was a bad idea for me to go to India alone, as expected.
When I finally called them back earlier this week, I think most of their fussing had been done without my involvement and they had settled with trying to make sure I was as safe as possible. I suppose this is better than them fighting me all the way.
T -30 Days Until India