It answers the question of individuality.
After five or six efforts at creating a framework and collection of words that can piece together what is me, I have found that no single experience or sole person can represent all that I am. I can only describe the variety of particulars that shape the gumbo of my life. I have one foot in Houston and my other in Northern Ireland where I have repeatedly spent summers sliding gratefully into their slowed down pace of life for a respite from the hurdling pace of Houston. This bi-cultural life has kept my eyes open to the “can-do” attitude of America without losing the value of community, neighbors, and friends – a major priority to the Irish. The different sports I played frequently in the locales of N. Ireland included soccer, rugby and cricket and expanded my range of sports beyond the high school and city-favored basketball and football games that I love so much. Perhaps what I enjoy most is the constant flow of neighbors and family unscheduled and un-announced coming through my granny’s house. The intimacy of this culture is one I try to create wherever I go; everyone has time to talk and drink a cup of tea. Lance, my second brother, has a form of autism called Asperger Syndrome. I have been a part of the exhausting and relentless battle my mother has fought to teach him social skills and to prepare him for a world that is not Lance-centric. I have learned to see the world through Lance’s eyes, and this has created in me an understanding and patience for others. Lance’s courage in facing situations that overwhelm him, especially in large groups, has made me sensitive to the struggles of other people and given me a sense of when someone might have a less obvious disability. His autism took me into a unique environment where I found that the social mores we hold in the “typical” world are debunked by the simplicity and logicality of that train of thought. It seems I always have my feet planted in two different worlds. I also have had a foot in an incredible world of privilege, rubbing shoulders with and receiving instruction from some of the nations’ best known composers, conductors and violinists. I play social gigs for politicians, the president’s family, local dignitaries. The master classes at which I have received instruction on a college level while still in high school have afforded me unbelievable growth. My other foot is planted in a small house; my mom and three younger brothers are very close to me and, through constant annoyance both good and bad, have created a harmony unmatched for its resonance. We are a busy house where everyone thinks their opinion is the most important, and from which battles ensue. No one, however, is allowed to sulk for long. Any scowl will be wiped off by the relentless teasing that brings a hidden smile to the one who wants to wallow in pity. The indomitable spirit of the family is even in the therapy beagle, who never stops wagging his tail! I have had to pay my way for several years now and I shift easily from playing my violin for $40 an hour at Society events to being a food runner at PF Chang’s Chinese Bistro. In both atmospheres, I enjoy the diversity present. I find that I know what to admire in any situation and it is not salary or position; it is qualities of perseverance and tenacity as well as a will to live to your potential that draws me to certain others. Last summer, I was in the midst of a tough-it-out battle of chess with a friend at a local coffee house when an apparently homeless man leaned forward with his cans rattling and offered a suggestion for my next move. After a moment’s thought, I leapt at the chance to seize the victory. It led to my sudden demise and as this end was signaled, my competitive nature screamed out through a face of shock to the hobo, my friend and nameless caffeine-seekers. His instant retort to my face, “go hop ‘round the bush, rahbit,” suddenly put things in perspective and I laughed at my taking so seriously a mere game. The realization that anyone can offer something that we can use (i.e.: reality) and taking responsibility for my choices became apparent through this singular moment. Who am I? I do not have that single hero who I look to consistently. Rather, my life is composed of many small yet vivid tiles in a huge mosaic, with each one showing my own variation on the qualities I find and emulate from others.