Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.


I just had an interesting experience… As an expatriate father I try my best to share as much as possible with my child about her “other” culture. This usually means telling stories to my daughter about my life growing up in the United States which she always seems to enjoy and often asks to hear. While driving to her cram school this morning Emily and I were listening to the Eagles Hotel California album, which inspired me to change the theme of my storytelling just a bit. Instead of telling my daughter about life in America, I instead informed her that in addition to being Japanese, she is also a Californian. She didn’t know what that meant… For the next five minutes I shared with her snippets and vignettes from my memory banks of the free and easy California lifestyle I knew growing up (which I know has changed a lot). Images of warmth, sunshine, music, laughter and the outdoor, beach-oriented way of life which molded my young mind came spewing from my mouth with an eagerness and enthusiasm of one who remembers something special which is now just a distant memory. But most of all I tried to instill in her mind the atmosphere of joyful optimism which was the most significant element of life in California when I was growing up in the freedom loving 70s. I finished up by telling Emily that no matter what happens in her life she will always be Californian as that was the land where she was born. I also told her that anyone can become and remain Californian by choice, as they can nearly any identity or lifestyle they elect to embrace. In the end Emily seemed a bit confused though I hope that some measure of my meaning might have been apprehended. I had to smile as I dropped her off just as Don Henley sang the words “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” So true…

I know that California and the United States have changed a lot since I left 10 years ago and especially since I was a child. I also know that no place is perfect and that challenges face Emily wherever she chooses to put down her roots. I also know that what I experienced as a youth was real and that California, like anywhere, has qualities of character which are unique and worthy of remembering and sharing. I don’t think I was lying to Emily though it won’t bother me very much if she comes away from our talk this morning with a slightly disproportionate view of the birthplace she shares with her daddy.



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This entry was posted on December 27, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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