Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rerouting from the Trail to Nowhere

So answer me this: Have you ever gone "blog cruising" where you start at one (friend's) blog and click on a link to one of their friend's blog which leads you to click on another link to another friend's blog which recommends a link to yet another blog...and on and on you go? Before you know it, you've wasted your baby's entire nap-time getting closer and closer to nowhere.

I have found myself doing that a bit, lately. A bit {too much}, lately. These blogs through which I've been surfing are absolutely beautiful! Mostly, they are blogs that feature the writer's suburban life and stylish and creative decorating. Everything about these blogs is attractive. Stunning floral arrangements, appealing prints and vintage stock magazine ideals. Fabric samples with bold prints that coordinate beautifully. Weekend trips to places that strangely seem more exciting because of a artistic and clever photo. Exemplary lives in digital format.
All of the images in these blogs are gorgeous and appealing and rich with ideas and imagination and...and so very white.

I just came to the realization that on these sites, there are no people of color. Rather, everyone looks like they live in Connecticut (nothing against CT - I like CT, it's just not an icon of diversity) or Martha's Vineyard, or Canada (hahahaa).... or Provo. Yes, everything is beautiful - but what I thought at first was unique, I'm now realizing is really just another kind of trend. I would say that most of the readers who would aspire to these blog "ideals" would be in their late 20's, married no more than five to seven years, live a comfortably lifestyle - and are white. And probably LDS. And all know each other.

I am not trying to sound bitter, here. Cynical perhaps, but not bitter. I harbor no resentment towards these sites. It's just that I realized as I was looking at these blogs, that was I starting to feel kind of....diminished. Out of place. Stranger-in-a-strange-land. Aware of my different-ness. You see, I don't really have a history of associating feelings of being different with feelings of enjoyment. Growing up a Maori girl in Utah Valley was mostly good, occasionally horrible, and kind of traumatic. Being the only brown girl amidst a sea of blond hair and blue eyes can be challenging for an eight year-old. Many Mormons in Utah can be very WASP-ish. Or maybe I should say WASM-ish. There were other children on occasion who shared my complexion: "Indian placement" students as they were called. Children usually taken from reservations in the Four Corners regions, and placed in the Utah education system during the school year, in order to provide a better education for them. Typically they lived in a sort of foster family situation. They stayed with the Good White Benevolent Family.

I was regularly mistaken for one of these children. Since I was the only one in my family without a fair complexion, the assumption would make sense. When my mother died, so did a lot of my identity. It was from her that I inherited my Polynesian features - so since she wasn't around for reference for the casual observer, mistakes about who I was, and how I fit into my family, were made.

Which brings me back to my original comment. Where are the beautiful blogs for non-white people? Even more pressing, where are the beautiful blogs BY non-white people? Obviously I'm looking in the wrong places. It's a familiar dilemma to me. My Maori cuzzies grew up in NZ, in a completely different culture from what is found in Utah Valley. One only has to look at Bebo to see what I mean. (My dad would often reinforce this by telling me that I would never "fit in" nor be accepted, were I to return to New Zealand. Harsh! And not true, either.) So maybe I'm not entirely like them, but I'm not entirely like the white folk, either. This paradox used to confuse me a lot as a youngster - so it's something with which I don't want my children to struggle. As an adult I know who I am, and I'm comfortable and VERY HAPPY forging my own path. Sometimes yes, I'm a little slow on the uptake - but once I figure it all out, and whether or not it works for me - I'm soaring, baby!

The solution for me is to love who I am, and to let my children see that love, so that they will love themselves. I absolutely, positively, without a doubt LOVE that they are growing up in NYC where everyone comes from different and colorful backgrounds and homes. In the city as a whole, people take those variances in stride. Now instead of feeling different, my children can look for ways TO BE different. It's something that's come full circle - but now it's a new and improved, pure titanium, encrusted with diamonds and a laser beam shooting out from the middle, with chocolate sauce and a cherry on top circle!

Being different here is just more of the same - and that's conformity that I can live with.


Unknown said...

I find it interesting to read your blog. You know I've known you since 5th grade, Mrs. Barker's class at Hillcrest. I don't think that I've ever thought of you as different than anyone else. I may have been a typical boy and teased you but you certainly were not alone in that. It what kids seem to do.

Now being single in Utah Valley at 40. I tend to feel similar feelings. I dare say that most people have a fear that somehow they are different or don't fit in.

Oh by the way, I the building I live in is a row of townhomes. There are 2 Latino families, a Asian-Indian family, a Romanian family, and 3 caucasian families including me. We used to have a Chinese and an Australian couple in our building when I first moved in. How's that for change?!

Kiwimommy said...

I think you're right about most peoples' fears. Not only that, but most people are too worried about themselves to even notice others' "shortcomings".

You if we ever move back to UT, I want to live in Orem. Not SLC or thereabouts, but OREM. Preferably in my parent's neighborhood because their ward ROCKS.

Anonymous said...

I have FINALLY clicked over here, and now I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner. This is really nice!

This particular post really resounded with me. The writing is pretty tight. I grew up as a Navy brat around mostly white people but with a few other filipino Americans; I went to BYU-Provo; and now I live here, the most diverse place I've ever been. I'd have to get used to living in another place where various ethnicities isn't the norm.