It’s still hard to imagine my parents as people who once had lives like the one I’m leading right now. To me, their lives had always started with…well, me.
It’s when tidbits about their past are fed to me that I start to get curious about what their lives were like before they settled down. My father offhandedly mentioned that he actually entered Polytechnic University as a chemical engineer major, only to discover that he didn’t like chemistry. It was then that he turned to silversmithing, and finally deciding on mechanical engineering.
My father, the man who loved his job so much that he set up a drafting table and work environment in his basement, actually thought he wanted to do something else? I can’t imagine him as a chemical engineer, and I didn’t even know silversmithing was a major!
My parents actually bought a house in Brooklyn, on 70th street and 20th avenue. They had intended to move out from our 1-bedroom apartment in Queens, away from all the relatives that lived above us or within a few minutes drive of us, away from the routes and venues and nuances that I know so intimately. I wouldn’t have gone to Montessori, Renaissance, and maybe not even Mega Academy. I would have lived a mere three blocks from my friend Sally, who currently lives two hours away by train.
But for whatever reason, they didn’t move out. My dad drove there during the fall to sweep the leaves in front of the property and in the winter to shovel the snow. Eventually my parents realized that they weren’t going to move there, that taking care of it was too much of a hassle, and that they weren’t strict enough as landlords to make money off of it. They sold the house at a loss just to be rid of it.
When I hear about my parents’ pasts, when I learn about how they stumbled, when I realize that they might be perfect parents but were not always perfect people…through learning about their failures I find the courage to face my own. Not everything fell into place the way they wanted, but I can’t imagine them falling any other way.