A Moment in My Life – Friday, February 18, 2022
Jeannie Yee Davis
My friend Jimmy suggested I screen the classic of West Side Story before catching the remake playing in the theatres, and I am glad I did. I found the classic beautifully done with the scenes, the choreography, the soundtracks, the costumes, and the casting was superb. I told Jimmy the actors were like monkeys how naturally they scaled the fence scene. I watched in awe as I knew there was no way I could’ve followed in suit with those agile, long and lean dancers.
I swayed to the music—vicariously dancing along, casting a chuckle here and there at the funny scenes and smiling at the endearing moments, so quickly forgetting this story’s theme. And then it happened, the disparity of the rival gangs. You’d think people would’ve learned from the past that hate, anger, prejudice, and what have you get you nowhere but only make things worse. There are consequences to every action. It pains me to observe these scenes as my common sense screams the possible result from what the about-to-happen action will create. It’s true to life, though, that the outcome is how people would respond as nonsensical as it is—fully knowing that it would not end well.
It is also true to life that people in love will believe, as Maria did, that “Loving is enough.” However, realistically, as Tony recognized, “Not here. They won’t let us be.” The beauty of love is that love is blind, as the old saying goes, and you never know who you might fall in love with, when, or how. We are all made the same with a bit of uniqueness tossed in for good measure, but we all need air, food, sleep, water, have desires and wants, and we all bleed a shade of red. Falling in love is the most beautiful act of all, in my opinion. Not everybody is fortunate enough to find their one person, but I’d like to believe that there is a certain someone for each of us. With that said, we cannot control who that someone might be or what or where they originated.
Family is everything, and that is a good thing, but sometimes, I think people get a little too wrapped up in that belief. Meaning they get so hung up in their family traditions and ways that there is no hope for outsiders. It’s the same with gangs, groups, and whatever. Nobody wants outsiders. I don’t get it, people. Everybody was a stranger at one time. How will we get past the stranger dilemma if we remain closed-minded?
Then, the family traditions and beliefs carry down from generation to generation. Does anybody even remember why things are the way they are? Or, are we merely going through the motions because that’s what we always did? The family feud in “Romeo and Juliet” took death from each family before they made up. Did you happen to catch how their rivalry began? I know. I know. At the start of the movie, the rival family crashed the other’s party and so on, as was the mischievous pranking they always did, but my question was, how did the initial feud start? As far as I can tell, nobody knows. Yet, the families continued to rival each other until the infamous mournful ending.
Sometimes these movies strike too close to home for me, and feuds are very real. When my father passed, my family couldn’t obtain a plot at the cemetery of choice because of an old family feud that I didn’t know about until that fateful day. I still haven’t learned the origin of that feud, but Daddy was not allowed to rest in that cemetery.
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a crush on a guy, like Tony, a little Italian boy with dark, wavy hair in elementary school. Or Long, a soft-spoken Chinese boy I met at the children’s ward when we were patients there. Or, the unobtainable celebrities like David Chiang and Donny Osmond, including my teen crush, Eddie Young, and in high school, there was Peter Bautista, a gorgeous Filipino guy. You get the idea. I liked guys for who they were without considering what they were or where their origin was.
My past did not equip me for my parents’ response to meeting my future husband. “Loving is enough” was my belief. However, the reality was, “Not here. They won’t let us be.” The initial meeting seemed like it went well with Mommy giving Mark the usual third degree, “Do you smoke, drink, gamble? What do you do for a living?” and so on. No big deal until I announced we were getting married. Wow! What an eye-opening experience that was! I did not see what was coming! I did not expect the pushback, and more so, I did not expect the kind of pushback. First off, they were not happy with Mark being half Caucasian and half Japanese. Followed by his lack of a well-established background. It was a big to-do to marry into a wealthy family in my culture and preserve our Chinese thoroughbred.
Now, had Mark been a doctor or lawyer or on some richie career path and been full Japanese, Mommy would’ve tolerated him because he looked Asian. However, Daddy would’ve accepted Mark had he been full Caucasian. Daddy shared his story with me about his war days for the first time, and I understood where he was coming from when Daddy pulled up his pant leg revealing scars galore. Daddy never spoke about his past, and here he was with a heated face telling me the gory details of what the Japanese soldiers did to him during that horrible time. I had never heard Daddy talk negatively about anybody until that moment. My heart cried, feeling his pain and all he went through, but my heart broke because we can’t blame all Japanese people for the horrendous sins of the past.
Their lesson wasn’t solvable in my lifetime. There will always be hate, anger, prejudices, and anything else that divides people. Why? I will never understand. The thoughts and behaviors were too ingrained to expect my parents to change, but against all odds, Mark and I married without my family’s blessings. I lost my family for several years when I chose Mark over family, but I would’ve still done the same thing if I did it all again. Eventually, they came around and tolerated Mark when they realized they couldn’t get rid of him.
It was a challenging road Mark and I took, but for us, we had a happy ending, and we proved that “loving is enough” even if “Not here. They won’t let us be.” We found a way to be together, and we had our happily ever after until death did us part, but, sadly, it started just like Romeo and Juliet.