Friday, January 17, 2014

Single child of a broken home

As the single offspring of a broken home, there are a lot of things people will not understand about you.

This maybe a place in the current social paradigm that is not as uncommon as it was before. But as a 31 year old, in my time, it was.

The biggest disconnect you will have with the "world" is that you put more value in stuff that seem trivial to most nuclear family-having people.

I was asked once of the birth dates of both my parents. I said I did not know. To this day, I only know of my cousins' Ronnie and Reynan's birth dates. I barely remember mom and pops b-days even if I tried to remember them. Because of that irregularity, the immigration person at NAIA 1 said, "Why don't you know your parents' birthdays? That's impossible!" (I am being very democratic of their command of the English language, BTW)

I told her to not be judgemental, not everyone has had a perfect family.

She said she was not being judgemental and that she might just change her mind and off-load me to my trip to Dubai. I told her to do so, and I'd take my snorkeling gear to Boracay in the next domestic flight.

She then turned red-faced.

Reality is, my fellow single-children of broken homes, they think we're like them. They think we think like them. They think we value the same things they do.

What they do not realize is that because we grew up alone and bouncing from one faction of the broken family to another each and every holiday... We have no anchor.

What they do not fathom is that we put eternally more value into friendships, memorable places and experiences than they do and that, no matter how how nonsensical it may seem, we MAY favor one parent over the other, given specific circumstances.

Because when they go to some place as awesome as say, Palawan, when they sky dive for the first time, when they finally see a place they only once saw on the telly, they most often do so with people even more awesome than the place or experience: their families. The skiing experience pales in comparison to how their mom - vaunted pillar of the fam - ate ice. The trip to a surfing paradise comes in second to the hilarious ways their sibling wiped out. How the sumptuous food of Singapore became forgettable compared to the awkward way dad first used chopsticks.

Their friends would never come close to their relationships with siblings or parents, no matter how rebellious they may seem to be. Not in the long run.

Us? Our parents barely know us. And past the teenage years of rebellion, our friends still know us better than the people who share our last or middle names. For a kid who grew up with aunts and uncles, its our friends who form the safety net beneath the trapeze as we grow. Sure, the cousins, the aunts and uncles, even the gramps may be there, but without a mom and pop, nothing really sticks as much.

They will never understand how we can think of a place, a vacation, a friend's family more fondly than we think of our non-existent family.

They will never understand that what was neglible for them - a family tied by blood that was always going to be there for you no matter what - was a mere dream for us. A dream made up for with ultra-close friendships and fond memories of times and places that gave us roots that we were always seemingly scrambling for.

 Most people will always look at you as a freak. Most people will never understand your unwavering loyalty to friends, your unabashed sentimentality about places not your hometown, your need to connect with old buddies.

They will never understand that no matter how mature you get, how you patch things up with the "fam", you will always and forever treasure the "family" that was there when the real one wasn't.
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