Ma & Pa Kettle

June 02 2014

My parents are pretty extraordinary people. In the late '80s, My dad came to the U.S. from Nigeria with less than $100 in his pocket to study veterinary medicine at the University of Auburn. My mom followed a few years later to study pharmacy, and then they popped out my older brother. I still don't understand how two foreign grad students were able to raise my two brothers and me on an American college campus. But they did it somehow. And mind you, there were no grandparents to send the kids to stay with. And then if life weren't already hard enough, my mom encouraged my dad to go back to med school in his 30s: "You've always wanted to be a real doctor. Be a man, and go be a real doctor." (My mom's words, not mine). So he did at age 36, with an 8-year old, a 5-year old (me), and a 2-year old at home. Still, they both did a pretty solid job raising us, especially my mom. And I know I wasn't an easy child - wetting the bed 'til I was in high school, and getting expelled from middle school, all the while thinking I knew better than they did because they were foreigners.

After my sophomore year of high school, my dad got an opportunity to open his own OB/GYN practice in West Virginia. The schools there were pretty terrible, so my parents sent me back to Georgia to live with a friend. After 3 months, my mom decided she needed to be with me, so she and my younger brother came back to Georgia. But my dad stayed. He stayed in West Virginia until he finished putting me through Yale, and by that time, my younger brother needed his dad back so he'd stop getting into trouble. So my dad shut down his practice, and he came back to give it a go in Georgia in the middle of a recession.

Fast forward to today, and somehow they're so damn proud of me, when they're the impressive ones. They're so damn proud of their son in New York. They're so proud, and I don't care. I was always more concerned with impressing other people than with impressing my parents. For me, the impression hierarchy was always "friends, then strangers, then family." At least until recently. A couple years ago, I quit my job in finance to start a company (shout-out to my partner Andy, who also clued me into The Listserve!). Some days it's great, some days it's rough. This happens to be a good month, and today happens to be a good day. Tomorrow should be too. My parents don't understand what I do, and they'll be proud of me no matter what. But for the first time, I want to do right by them and make it work. I remember when I got into Yale. I leaned over the bannister and called down nonchalantly to my mom who was sound asleep on the couch. Her reaction was not nonchalant. She immediately jumped up, started running around downstairs (picture the running man at a gospel revival), then up the stairs screaming and praising Jesus. I know I'd like to see that again.

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New York, NY

P.S.: Lower Manhattan Community Church in New York is so dope. If you're in New York and like thoughtful honest sermons, great music, and wonderful community, come visit.

Past Crushes: Breana, Bethany, Amanda, Nina, Christy, Carla, Tara, Angelica, Jessica, Bea, Liz, Caitlin, Kerstin, Whitney

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