In thinking about birthdays, I’ve been asking myself what that means exactly. By definition it refers to ones official day of entering the world, but for me I thought the idea seemed more interesting to think of it as a birth of who you would ultimately in life become. And more specifically remembering a single moment that would define your character?
There is a story my Dad used to tell us growing up about his journey into the United States. The entire story is much longer, and actually pretty good, but for now I’ll just share the bullet points. It starts with him and my sister taking a van up through Mexico and into Baja from San Salvador (my mom and I would cross at a later date). The goal was to cross at Tijuana. At some point they were instructed to get out of the van in the middle of the night and walk…literally cross the border. There were many and they walked for miles throughout the night just before the sunrise. Helicopters were seen in the sky periodically. They had no suitcases. Only the clothes on their backs. And at some point my Dad hurt his foot and was unable to carry my sister. And there was this old man who must have befriended them during the journey. He offered to help carry my sister in return for the shirt my Dad was wearing. He said he liked the little alligator. He knew what the logo stood for. He knew that Lacoste carried some cultural currency, and he was in that moment willing to trade physical strength for material wealth. Who knows what shirt he had on before that, but he definitely wanted to roll into the U.S. with some style.
Growing up I remembering hearing that story. When I was little I never understood why someone would care so much about a stupid shirt. Now I’m completely fascinated with brands and logos. I also now work for a company that produces enough apparel to clothe an entire nation. Logos, icons, and graphic language are everything in the business I’m in. Standing for something is everything. And in some weird way I owe that stupid alligator some credit for the creative life I’ve been able to lead thus far. I thank god everyday for the creative talents I’ve been given and the amazing opportunity to express myself. Sometimes I think what kind of life I would have led had if my parents had not made it across the US border. Sometimes I wonder if I would still have a creative life. Sometimes I wonder if I would care so much about logos. Sometimes I wonder what became of that old man.