Revisiting The Familiar and Encountering Its Unfamiliarity

I am currently lying on a pull out couch arming myself with blankets and sweaters to battle against the cold. I am about 5,000 feet above sea level, staying in a house nestled in the tree-filled mountains of Lake Arrowhead with about 20 other third culture kids for the weekend. I’ve been to this very house before, last January to be exact. Many of the people that I am staying with me are familiar faces since they attend what is now my university alma mater. Given that my Southern California home in the valley isn’t far from here, I figured why not come back?

It seems like this moment is a continuation of my recent season of revisiting the familiar. 

With high school far behind me and university life recently concluded, I’ve been in my family’s home a lot more and I have been in closer proximity to the those with whom I attended high school while further away from the friends I made during my undergraduate experience. With time passing and people changing, many friends that I made during high school are no longer people I stay in contact with, a reality that comes with growing up. Despite the distance that separated me from my high school mates during my four years of undergrad, there are two high school friends that are near and dear to my heart. I am fortunate that the sentiment is reciprocated with them towards me. 

This past week, I was able able to grab a bite with them, one at a time. Though it had been a year or more since we last saw each other in person, it was like we picked up where we left off. But even though they were faces I recognized, behind those faces were experiences and memories they collected and stored in their mind over the course of the year we were apart, pieces of them foreign to me prior to our recent encounter. 

That week was gone and this past Thursday came. I found myself, once again, as a volunteer for my little sister’s elementary school field trip. The last time I volunteered was last year and while the school did not change, her class did as well as the destination of the field trip. This time, we visited a planetarium at a community college nearby. We had lunch followed by a brief exploration of downtown. We then found ourselves in the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, learning about the native wildlife and the roots of the ground we stand on, a history rich in the culture of various Native American tribes (Chumash, Tongva, Serrano, Cahuilla, Luiseño, and Kumeyaay).

Cahuilla Painting

 

Jewelry from various Native American Groups
My sissy and me

So much of Southern California used to be Mexico and prior to that, it was fully inhabited by these Native American people. Where I live and where I am currently staying was originally home to the Cahuilla people.

I am faced with the truth that there is more to the ground that my feet stand upon. I am faced with the evidence of Manifest Destiny and the fact that most of this land no longer belongs to those Native Americans. It’s moments like these that demonstrate the depth surrounding undocumented immigrants who come here from Mexico. There is so much history here and to assume that their deportation is a straight-forward, reasonable solution is to ignore the honest history that exists here between the United States, Mexico, and their ancestors.

With this realization from my sister’s school field trip, the conversations with my high school friends, and my stay with my university TCK family, I realize didn’t have to go far to discover new things, learn valuable lessons, and hear incredible experiences.

 

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned or things you’ve discovered in your familiar places?

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