I know few people funnier than Connor Delaney, an amateur comedian and my best friend back in the US. A standard night of Connor and I hanging out consists of us walking to the beach or waiting in line for ice cream and sparking up conversations with other kids. Just when our new friends begin to get comfortable with us, Connor will blindside them with a ridiculous comment. “So how old are you guys?” “We’re one hundred years old.” They will usually take a moment to laugh and then look up at us to find we are not smiling. “We are one hundred years old,” Connor would repeat. The would-be new friends invariably retreat, and we move on to look for our next victim. Connor comes up with a lot of hilarious comments to turn situations awkward, but there is one in particular that always comes to mind. “Hey, do you guys want to come hang out on the beach with us?” “One second, let me call my dads and ask.” “Oh, are your parents divorced?” “No, they are still together.”
The thing about Connor’s humor, though, is that it only works for Connor. I remember one of my first days at Global Citizen Year training at Stanford. “Hey Nic, was it cool with your parents that you took a year before college?” “Yeah, both of my dads really supported my decision.” Of course, I forgot I was in the most sexually liberated place in the world. “That’s great!” replied one Bay Area Fellow. “My best friend has two dads too,” said one of the girls from San Francisco. “Wait, did New Jersey legalize gay marriage?” inquired another Californian. There is certainly a lesson to be learned here about stealing your friend’s jokes.
The irony of all this though is that I now do have two dads, and two moms and four brothers, and I want to take this blog post to talk about what it was like to have my family doubled. I think the close correlation between my American family and my Ecuadorian family has saved me from getting even the slightest bit homesick. To start, I went from my dad being my favorite person to both of my dads being my favorite people. They are good natured, youthful and perhaps both show some favoritism towards me over my brothers. Their similarities certainly do not carry over into the physical realm though. My dad of the United States, my actual father if I recall correctly (things start to get a little blurry when you live with a host family for so long), is tall with blonde hair and blue eyes, a well-trimmed beard and fair skin. Don Alfonso, the dad that is teaching me to ride a horse and slips me extra chicken in my soup at night, is nearly a foot shorter than me. He has dark hair, dark eyes and the strong tan of an Ecuadorian farmer. I have hardly had time to miss going on adventures with my Mr. Freschi dad because I am out with Don Alfonso guiding the bulls as they plow the fields or following him on an errand to the water tank deep in the cloud forest, stopping at the occasional tree to search for fruit.
The comparison between my two families does not stop at the men of the household. My South American mom and my North American mom are the engines that keep the machine running. I probably do not miss my US mom waking me up at seven o’clock in the morning for school because my ECU mom has filled her shoes, waking me up every morning at five thirty to milk the cows. Even now I glance nervously at the clock, which already reads 9:10pm, because I know there will be no sleeping in tomorrow. I am usually well into a dream by now. Both of my moms also have soft sides though. I get hugs and kisses before I go stay at my uncle’s house in Ibarra every weekend and more when I return every Monday, something my mom back in the States always made sure I had plenty of. There is always warm, yummy food for me three times a day and I am carefully attended to whenever I get sick. Just like back home, I wake up here to my mom telling me how many times I used the bathroom in the night and asking what is wrong. The Andes might as well be the Appalachians as far as I am concerned.
Last but not least, I left my house of two brothers for a house of two brothers. Lucas and Nixon, the youngest brothers in each family, are guitar playing romantics who spend their free time texting their various lady friends, listening to music and playing sports. My youngest brothers have a lot of responsibilities around the house, but I can always count on them to hang out and share jokes with. Marco and Omar, the older brothers in each family, are both much closer to my age, and I have them to talk to about serious things when needed. I also have the two of them to tag team our little brothers and just lounge around with in our old age. Although I must say the Lucas-Nixon connection is significantly stronger, Marcomar is enough to perpetuate the illusion that I am in fact not a far leap from Hillside Ave.
I have actually experienced a few differences between the United States and Ecuador. I think back to a world full of cars to instantly take me wherever I wanted to go, restaurants filled with every food I can dream of eating, and a cell phone that actually had a signal and didn’t need me to go out looking for a Claro store to put more minutes on it after less than an hour of talking. My family here has been the rock on which I have found refuge from the storm of change I am sailing through. So there you have it. All I can say is “Thanks, dads.”