Many years ago (I will say over a decade ago, just to keep from emphasizing my old age) I spent the summer on Oahu. I had a best girlfriend that was going to the University of Hawaii for the summer. I didn’t want to spend the summer alone and feared loneliness and boredom. I begged my father to let me go.
I didn’t tell him what I would be studying. Times were different. He never really asked. It fit my general election classes, but it was the easiest of the bunch. I took a Drafting class.
Yes, I was a manipulative kid. I had just turned 19, but wished I was 21. Funny, how age changes our perspective. When I get carded now, it’s a blessing. That didn’t stop me from finding my way into the bars or sipping cocktails on Waikiki beach.
I stayed in the apartments on campus and had a dining commons card. I would go to class, most often. Okay, sometimes. After my late morning class let out, I would grab my drawing board and walk the mile to the beach. I would sit for hours and listen to Tracy Chapmen on my Walkman. Yes, I’m that old. She’s Got Her Ticket was my mantra. It was my ticket to escapism. It was my ticket to the exploration of life.
In pure first-generation, Indian, rebellious fashion, I was living a secret life. I was an ABCD, American Born Confused Desi, but I felt like I was part of the FBI. It was like someone had handed me a new name and the ability to create a new personality. It was like I was, temporarily, in the Witness Protection Program.
I didn’t hangout much with my friend, as she spent most of the summer missing her boyfriend. I met new people and learned about, well…life. I often wonder what life will be like 18 years from now. Will my daughter be able to explore life and travel the way I did or will the world be in a completely different state?
Will my tests of personal safety, like walking home from bars in a foreign state at 1 am be like walking the streets of a South African city? Will we feel she has the street smarts and intuition to guide herself to safety in tough situations, the way I did? Will I worry more or will I let her go and hope I raised her well? Will I be able to give her the benefit of the doubt?
I remember meeting a waiter at the Jolly Roger that had recently graduated from the University of San Diego. He was very cute and seemed more interested in my roommates that were fit to be Sports Illustrated models. They had perfect bodies, which I did not. My cleavage was non-existent. I had a tiny pear-shaped form. I was self-deprecating. I didn’t see myself for the young beauty I was. In hindsight, when you see yourself with wrinkles and butt dimples, several years later, you wish you cherished the body you once had. I’ll remember to teach my daughter to believe she’s beautiful, no matter what.
The cute waiter came to the university apartments one night and asked me if I wanted to go to the other side of the island. We were to drive to Kailua, with 40-ouncers in tow. I was to get into a car with a drunk driver, but I let it go. Not sure, if my intelligence was on leave that day, but I felt special that he had picked me.
I ended up going to a party and spending the night there. Nothing X-rated or even R-rated happened, but it was irresponsible and I got lucky with my bad decision. I got lucky, like I had so many times before.
I hope the retribution for my actions will not resurface through my daughter’s experiences. Karma doesn’t skip a generation, right?
Today, I told my husband that if Babyface seems well-adjusted at that age and like a good kid, we should give her the option to have similar experiences. When I said this, he replied, “The world may be a different place. We don’t know what it will be like. We can’t even speculate that possibility now.”
He is exactly right and I am sad that it may never be safe enough for her not to make those stupid mistakes. I’ll teach her about my experiences and hope that she questions her decisions as she goes. But, if the world continues to digress, I may never even get a chance…to take a chance on her. Her greatest trip may be camping out in our backyard.