I was recently hanging around with some friends of mine, and we got on the topic of families. We were talking about our status in life, how we got where we are. Him, being a first generation of Chinese Immigrants, me being second generation, totally Americanized. We talked about politics, jobs, and somehow, as I stated, our families.
Inadvertently, I brought up my cousin. I say that because as he was talking about how his family became who they were in this country, the story reminded me so much of him. Not that my cousin immigrated here, but, just how in this country one can start with humble beginnings and become something great. As I reflected on the conversation I had with my friend, I remembered how much I admired my cousin, even growing up.
My cousin does not know I’m writing this, so obviously out of respect for his private life, I will leave some stuff out. I am also going to give him the random name of “Jim,” again, for his private life and his unknowingly becoming a subject of a blog. Also, typing “my cousin” over and over again not only will annoy me, but I am sure you, the reader, as well. Jim is significantly older than me, so I did have the opportunity to see him as an inspirational adult figure, and have much respect for how he got where he is. Even the friend I mentioned above, had great respect for a man who could come from so little, and gain so much.
I don’t know much about Jim as a very young child, as, I wasn’t born. I can’t comment too much on his socioeconomic status growing up either. He went to public school in New York City, lived somewhere in the 70s in Manhattan during the 1980s. I wouldn’t say he was poor, but from my understanding from my mother, money was tight. Then again, when isn’t it?
I wish I could say I remember Jim when he was a teen, but, for the most part, it seems all my memories are of him as an adult. Perhaps it was because I was so young, and me being so small that even a young, teenage Jim would tower above me much like the rest of the tree like people looking down.
But, I remember always loving Jim. Something in the way he perused what he wanted to do, an independent spirit, like my grandfather. Every year I saw him he was involved in a new interest or hobby, and good at it too. One year he charmed me with magic tricks, speaking of becoming a magician. The next year he wasn’t a magician anymore, but found a new passion. He kept going and going and following wherever his dreams took him. Eventually that spirit took him to computers, networking, coding, website design, and a bunch of technical words and terms that I don’t understand.
I get it, I get it. This is titled “The American Dream” and I’m talking about my cousin. I guess the point is, my cousin reminds me of what I actually love so much about this country. Here, a man from a modest beginning, dropping out of HS to follow where his heart leads him, and becoming one of the most successful people I know.
Oh, wait. I didn’t mention that? The man who followed his dreams and heart became so successful that he has a mansion in an exclusive neighborhood in New York state and married a beautiful woman who, for all intensive purposes, can trace her heritage to Romanian Royalty?
THAT, my friends, is America. That is what I told my friend, whose parents saw that when they came here. When people ask me what the “American dream” is, I bring up my cousin. Because, none of that is exaggerated. I love my cousin, and I love my country. It is why my grandparents immigrated here, and it is the dream. And if anyone doesn’t know what it means to live in America, just tell them this is the only country where you can grow up in a blue collar neighborhood, drop out of high school, follow your dreams, find your passion, become wealthy, and marry royalty.
Everyone’s American dream is different, everyone’s story is written differently. There is a lot going on in the political infrastructure of America right now that makes me unsure of where my country is going. It may have always been this way. I just want to say right now, no matter where you stand, left or right, pro or con, black or white, religion or not…
This is a great country. We have great opportunity. Let’s not forget what we are all about.