I walked into the house after a long day at work, and worrying about my heart and my heart’s man. I was greeted by the sight of my mother, beaming and blooming at the mere sight of me. I could see the love filling her up, and when she held me I felt safe as you only feel in the arms of your Ma. Then I saw my dad smile with such pride and joy, and hug me tight after almost a year of Skype, and viber and whatsapp.
Seeing them, and coming home to them cracked the facade of “adulthood.” I’ve regressed to my childhood, and bask in their love and care. I forgot all the things I had on my mind.
It’s been a turbulent and transformative summer. Between the quarter life crisis, and the wanderlust, and the reawakening of my love-sick heart I’ve been treading water out in the lonely ocean. I’ve been re-evaluating my identity, and trying to sort out parts of me. These last few weeks with my parents have made all this clear.
My parents gave me life. But more importantly, they gave me the ability to appreciate my life, to enjoy my life and to give of myself to this life. They taught me how to live with no regrets, and have guided me into this woman; the fun one, the crazy one, the responsible one, the HAPPY one.
Imagine my heart as an open highway. People come in and walk out as they please, they take and take and take.. some wage war on my heart, and yet it stays open.
My ability to love endlessly is because I have an unlimited reserve of love from my family.
My ability to trust openly is because I don’t have to put walls around my heart. My family protects me. Their love shields me.
My ability to smile and have a generally sunny disposition is because my parents worked hard to give me a life full of happiness.
My ability to cut loose, leave my inhibitions at the door and grab life by the handle bars is because that’s how my parents taught me how to live life.
They taught me to be responsible, but not to worry about letting my guard down.
My dad taught me how to love music, and movies, and books, and spirituality. My dad taught me to look to myself for inspiration. He taught me to set standards within myself. To be accountable to myself. My dad taught me to expect more from myself.
My mom taught me how to love, how to be a caretaker. She taught me how to be to be strong, and forceful and unbending in this world as a woman. She taught me to expect greatness and settle for nothing less than the very best. My mom taught me how to be vulnerable, and emotional and soft. She taught me how to comfort, and nurture.
My family is me. I’m not alone, ever. No matter where I go in this world, I will never be alone because of the family my parents created.
The sibling bond they helped nurture between my brother and I. The fact that we can sit in the living room for 4 hours and talk about our life. We can talk about what we want from life, what we expect from each other. I look to my brother for support. I know I can lean on him, and he will guide me. His intelligence and compassion teach me every day. He teaches me about the earth, about plants, and humanity. My brother teaches me spirituality. He is my teacher in so many things in this life.
My sisters are my treasures. Little versions of myself, doing and saying things just like me. They reflect me and help me see how much i have grown and how much more I have to grow. They teach me patience and understanding. They look up to me and hold me to a standard that I can’t help but live up to. How can I let their young naive hearts astray? Even when i’m at my worst they see something in me worth respect, worth the honour they bestow upon me every day.
I know it might be easy to shrug these emotions off as “love.” But this isn’t just about love.
It’s about a cultural aspect of my life. This is the best part of my Sri Lankan culture. Being a part of an extended family, and never leaving home, never stop being children. There is no empty nest syndrome in Sri Lanka, because no one ever leaves the nest. Sure we fly away, and set up our own nests but we never leave our parents or siblings behind. To have my parents live with me, and to take care of them would be a great honour and great joy in my life. Giving back to my family isn’t a responsibility or an obligation. It is my most absolute and gratifying joy.
People fill their days and nights, homes and lives with things. Things that are meant to give them joy. But then they go home to empty rooms, empty homes and empty lives. Because their things can’t give them the happiness they seek.
Is there a greater joy than saying goodbye to your brother as he starts college in the fall? Knowing that I was a part of his journey… Knowing that I will be a part of my sisters’ journey… That I could alleviate some of the strain from my parent’s mind, by being here? This is true happiness; for how could I ever look back on these years, and these decisions and ever feel regret?
People don’t realize that sometimes making a small sacrifice of self, is actually something that will make one happy over and over again for years. (Especially since us humans have a natural tendency to pat ourselves on the back.) So when I make a decision about my life it is NEVER going to be made without my family. This concept of “it’s your life” does not make sense in my mind. It is simply not a justification for me to ignore the wisdom of my parents or the future of my siblings. Of course it is my life, and I choose to give back to the family that gave me this life. I’m not bound by my parents. I feel naturally within me a gratitude that overwhelms, and a need to help. Just as they taught me how to seek adventure, they taught me by example not to forget those who have helped you, and to always give back to your family and community.
My family is my everything.
May be the world won’t understand.
May be my American culture doesn’t understand.
I can’t explain it any better than to say:
Knowing I have my family gives me freedom.
The ability to belong anywhere. To live alone in an unknown city, and to never feel alone.
As long as the Kulatunga blood line connects us, we don’t need Skype or email. I will never be alone, because I have my family.
I am me, because of my family.