SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2003        Personal Memory Ethnographies


The Ways We Are Formed

   It is interesting to look around and see everyone, the way they are.  How did they get there?  Are they really what they seem?  To me the world in which we live is made up of plastic.  People show you what they want you to see, even if it’s not what they are.  They have a way to make you believe and you feed on those lies.  Many of the experiences we have are made of lies.  Like love, how can you say you love something and let it go?  I guess the barriers that keep us from what we want and need allow love to be taken.  Whether it be money or culture that keeps us from that feeling, that need, to me is unacceptable.  How can you put a price or status on something that may only happen once in a life time?

I met a man and the moment I looked into his beautiful blue eyes, I fell madly in love. His name was Ali, he was from Iraq, and he had grown up mostly in L.A. He was very Americanized by this time. Not only was he Arab but he was much older. I dated Ali for 6 months before my family ever knew. My family, like his did not accept mixed marriages. The one thing that set them apart was the fact that my family saw how much we loved and needed each other, they accepted our decision. His family on the other hand would have rather disowned him than allow him happiness.

It’s hard for me to accept that in the diverse society in which we live, a middle class white American woman could be subjected to discrimination and hate because of her upbringing and skin. Of course I don’t hate his family for it. What I can’t understand is that our society today is such a melting pot of cultures, and people come here for opportunity but the first time they take it it’s frowned upon.

With all the cultural and family differences that SL and I had, nothing seemed to stop me from falling in love with her soul. She will always be the best thing that happened to me and the moment I saw her, I knew she was going to be mine. There are so many things that were frowned upon by my culture but nothing seemed to matter when it came to loving her. She stood next to me when I needed her but I guess roots are stronger than everything else.

I came from a wealthy family and I felt that I needed to take care of her. She was a student with a full time job and never seemed to care for anything but me. I felt I needed to take care of her too but my family never approved of it. I tried to fight back but it was a lost battle. I could have never changed their strong convictions so I gave up and went along with what they said.

I do regret what I did to her and how she changed after being with me. When I met her she was a happy and loving person who cared about nothing but the simple things in life. I might have given her all the material things that girls would dream of but I wasn’t able to give her true love. I gave her a life made of dreams when she gave real love. I sometimes felt that she loved me more than life itself but once again I couldn’t return any of that.

Now that it’s all over I have a couple of things to tell her. I never thought the day would come where I had to choose between those who I love the most. I hope she forgives me and understands that life is not fair. Maybe if circumstances were a little different and our choices depended only on us, things would have been different. I know that no one will love me as much as she did but I can’t live without my family and if she loves me she would understand that. I will think of her every step of the way and wish she would find someone that deserves her pure heart. She might think that her heart won’t be capable of loving again but I know that a woman like that comes once in a lifetime and someone out there deserves her more than I do.

When I think about all of the times and memories we shared my heart hurts, but in a good way. I would have never experienced a life like that of wealth with out him. In a way I am glad for the way things turned out. I would not be the person I have become with out those experiences. One thing I remember so much about him is Gio. Gio by Armani was the cologne he wears, no matter where I am, in the store or passing a man on the street, if I smell it, it brings a smile to my face and a rush of memories to my mind. I will never forget him, although I am learning to forgive him.

It’s amazing to me how most people go through life accepting everything that happens to them. They become so involved with the way things are but they don’t take the time to understand them. I guess what I’m trying to say is we might have no control over destiny, but we control how its impact affects us.

What happened didn’t take much of me; I believe it added a lot. My identity is now revealed not because the incident occurred but rather the time and place it happened. The reason why I would never be able to forget what happened is the timing of that incident. Such experiences at a young age are imbedded in our personality. I needed something he had and he gave me what I wanted but I failed to foresee the reality or the long term goals that he had planned. The difference in culture and the power struggle in his family made the attempt to adapt in the western world an impossible one. I don’t think anyone chooses what happens or expects things to turn out the way they do, but those who learn that we don’t get what we deserve try to master the art of negotiation. After all, life tends to sculpture our personality and aligns our thoughts to match our principles. Ali and I have a lot of things in common but we live in a world that asks for more than we are capable of or what we want to be.

This incident is one in a lifetime full of experiences to come. The greater part of our life is not based on that incident but on a lifetime of decision making and the way we deal with occurrences that make us what we are. I guess the eastern and the western culture can never be one. In a world heading to globalization, people like us, have a long way to go. I am what I am and he will always be Ali.

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