By Guest Blogger: Ryan Strange, 19 years old, from East Granby, CT. He just graduated from Westminster School, a small preparatory school in Simsbury, CT, and will attend Bowdoin College in the fall. He lives with his niece, two loving parents, is a fanatic of hockey, reading, and music.
I’m right on the edge…elated and scared shitless.
I’m neither going to tip and free-fall just quite yet, nor can I back up into more comfortable territory. I just graduated high school, and I’m heading to college in the fall. I know that things will be different, and it’s starting to hit me gradually, each day. Quite frankly, this time I have right now I’ve been using to reflect on who I am and who is around me.
I’m starting to appreciate my parents like never before. I did appreciate them before, but now I feel more deeply for them. Both of my parents are retired Correctional Officers and that is how they met…so yes, they literally met each other in prison.
My mom worked 26 years as a Corrections Officer while my dad finished with 28 years, overseeing all 18 prisons in the state of Connecticut. My mother is black, and my father is white. I am the product of them, and this is my first time discussing this personally in writing.
I believe that my parents’ occupations allowed them to share some level of “normalcy” when “them” together was not normal in so many people’s eyes. People stared and people talked, and there’s been backlash that sometimes hurt my parents’ marriage. That backlash from others has also hurt and hindered me before, from being myself, because I was afraid of what others would think of me. Not only just about who I am in skin color, but much deeper in who I am as a person.
I remember when I was 10 years old playing hockey, and all the parents on the team would just talk constantly about my parents’ marriage. It was some sort of circus attraction to them. I stayed on the team as long as I could, but eventually left because it got so bad.
I realize as I write this that I’m so grateful I’ve came to a place where I know the past has no effect on what I can do now. For a long time it was burdensome…a weight on my shoulders that was hard to shake off. My parents still together, today, helped me see that as well. I am so proud of them.
To any parent in a mixed-race marriage or with a child who is of mixed race, I’d like to say: Love can go a long way. Your child will be confused when people question who they are as a person, and it will hurt. Your love will bring them back to a place of knowing everything will be all right. That might sound cliché but it is the truth.
As I’m writing this now, my thoughts are moving hastily as my dad is calling me to help him in the yard and I’m still thinking about what I’m going to do for a job…still thinking about that girl, and hoping the Bruins are going to win this game tonight against the Blackhawks. I am on the edge, not falling over yet nor can I jump back. I feel replenished, and ready. Indeed I am ready. I thank everyone who took the time to read this.
Here’s to the future.
P.S. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m one of the youngest writers who submitted in this Guest Blog series, and probably the most nervous. But that shouldn’t matter…Jun said it best in her email, “Ryan…I don’t think it matters how old you are as long as you can write.”