Tuesdays with Harjot Athwal A) Us and them is a short story by David Sedaris. This short story is told in the first person narrative and it’s about his family’s life in North Carolina. His family moved from the New York state where he lived in the country. to North Carolina, a city. In the country, there were no streetlights, sidewalks, and you couldn’t see anyone for miles. Sedaris compares this life to his life in the city, where even in his house, other homes were visible, as well as the people living in their households. It was difficult for Sedaris to adjust to the new environment, hence he found it challenging to make friends.
He hoped that in this new life of his, he could witness some action and thriller, such as murder, however, he only witnessed people watching television. Except for Mr. Tomkey’s family because they didn’t own a TV since Mr. Tomkey did not believe in television. The neighbours were bewildered because in the twenty first century it was uncommon for someone not to own a television. The civilians thought it was a great idea, but at the same time believed it was wrong for Sedaris to inflict his beliefs upon his family, as it can cause them suffering.
Sedaris was curious to what life is like without a TV, and started to peek at Tomkey’s household to observe their routine. This became his own personal television show. Before he knew it, Sedaris didn’t like Mr. Tomkey or his family. It was the day after Halloween when Mr. Tomkey brought his children to their house to trick or treat. Sedaris was uncomfortable with this situation because it wasn’t trick-ortreating they were doing, it was begging. He was even more upset because he knew he had to give his candy to the kids, and for that he despised Mr. Tomkey. He was just happy that he was able to watch TV at home.
The life lesson the story taught is about importance of family life, and how technology interferes with this. In this short story, Sedaris describes Mr. Tomkey as someone who “did not believe in television,” which seemed very unusual. However, his relationship with his family seemed friendly; they would have lengthy conversations, tell jokes, and have a great family bonding session at the dinner table, compared to everyone just staring at a television screen. Television can be used positively as a group activity, but it’s the idea of more people using technology as a mean to not interact with others on a personal level.
Thus, technology has an impact on how family members interact. B) During my seventeen years of existence, I learned a valuable lesson that no one is in charge of your happiness except you. I learnt this through one of the most unforgettable downfalls I experienced which was my depression due to the constant need to feel wanted. From trying to make new friends, and continuously moving house to house, it was difficult for a young kid to manage all this stress and all these changes. Hence, the constant need to feel wanted also led to a road of depression.
My family constantly moves to different places, thus I went home from home, and school from school. It was challenging to keep on making new friends. My first day of junior kindergarten was a new experience for me, but I found it to be less stressful because my brother was in the same class as me since he was in senior kindergarten. However, that didn’t last because my family moved for the second time since I was born. Now, I was starting senior kindergarten in a new school without my brother and without realizing it, for two years, I spent my recesses alone.
It wasn’t until grade two that I was able to make three friends. Just when I felt wanted, and belonged to a group, my family decided to move again. I recall crying and crying in my room, thinking all the effort I put into finding new friends was all a waste of time. However, my parents surprised me and said they found “a new house in the same neighbourhood,” therefore I could go to the same school. I became ecstatic, but while my house was under construction, my family and I had to live in an apartment for eight months. I didn’t mind because I knew I would come back and be reunited with my friends.
Coming back to school in the middle of third grade felt different, like it was the first day of school all over again. I went to find my friends, but I soon discovered that they all found new friends to bond with. I tried my best to fit with any of their groups, but the friends I once knew seemed like different people now. I had to start over, and try to make new friends all over again. Thus, I began to put in an effort to make another friend, but everyone already had their buddy. Also, my personality has always been different from other people, thus my classmates would find me unusual, and strange.
I was like a stray cat that no one wanted to rescue. Therefore, once again, I was isolated, and soon I fell into a state of depression. I soon gave up to make new friends when it hit me that my efforts would go in vain, because I was conditioned to believe that once I make new friends, I will move again and I couldn’t bear to experience losing friends for the third time and say goodbye. I began to blame and despise the word ‘move’ as I painted it as the reason for ruining my life, but I also couldn’t shake off the feeling that no student wanted me to be their friends because they just didn’t like me as a person.
Thus, trying to make new friends after continuously moving house to house left me in a depressive state because I didn’t feel wanted. Through these experiences, a life lesson that I learnt was that no one is in charge of your happiness except you because the depression I experienced was no one’s fault but my own. Even though I made an effort to make new friends, I let the countless failures overtake me. The failures made me isolate myself. I was a child, and thought I was not wanted, but it was all in my head. I didn’t know, thus I didn’t talk to anyone about how I felt about not being wanted. No teacher, family member, relative, no one.
If I talked to someone, I probably wouldn’t have fallen into depression. I need be responsible for my own happiness and find solutions to my problem, instead of using self-pity as an excuse to be depressed. In conclusion, I wanted to belong to a group, for my family to stop moving and live a stable life without any major changes. I despised my parents for making the decision to keep moving because I couldn’t comprehend to why they couldn’t be satisfied with the house we own now. Trying my best to feel wanted, no one else but me caused my depression. It’s essential that I take charge of my own happiness because only I know what’s best for me.