Dreaming, American Style

Need to hear someone not dragging on America, on this anniversary of the beginning of the American experience?

Well, here you go:

I am the product of the American Dream.

There was a time when that notion wasn’t soaked in cynicism and meant something to people. It must have meant something to my father, who left a budding career as an oral surgeon in the Dominican Republic and, rather than start dental school all over again, quickly got a technician’s license here so he could support us. It must have also meant something to my mother, who left the only home she’d ever known to emigrate to New York City, where she would give birth to me: their first-generation American son, born the day my father secured his visa to join us for good.

I was an infant when we lived in someone’s attic and my parents worked to make ends meet. I was two when we moved into a New York City apartment and my father ran a dental laboratory out of the spare bedroom. I was five when he opened his business in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan. And I was seven when we moved into a house in a New Jersey suburb, where we would enjoy a quiet street, a backyard pool, and endless possibility. Over the next twenty years, my father’s business thrived. My mother became a schoolteacher with a master’s in bilingual education. My siblings and I lived comfortable lives, privileged enough to entertain creative pursuits without worry. Things were far from perfect, but on just about anybody’s scorecard, my parents had won.

Through all of this, neither of them ever spoke a word about the American Dream, but they didn’t have to; they lived it with every move they made. Despite the struggle and the risk, they chose to try their luck because they believed in the possibility of building something better—and they succeeded.

I’m living proof of that.

And that’s just the introduction.

All is not lost.

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