I remember sitting with my older friend Justin after he had broken up with his girlfriend of three years. A year younger than him, she was still in high school and he had just finished his first year of college. When I asked him why he ended it, all he could say to me was “College changes you, and the person I became wasn’t the person she fell in love with, and I got tired of trying to be that person.” At the time (as I was still in high school myself) I couldn’t truly understand what he meant.
I grew up in the small town of Irvington, and have lived in the same house my entire life. The home I was brought into three days after I was born is the house I walk into when I come home from college. I went to school with the same group of 70 kids since pre-school, and ate at the same deli every morning. The longest I had ever been away from home was 4 days, when I went on a vacation with a few girl friends. While yes, there were experiences that changed and shaped who I am (deaths of friends, car accidents, and my first job) nothing changed me more than when I was physically taken away from my home.
The first time I came home after being at Loyola I remember my mom hugging me, rushing me into the car and driving home from the train station. Despite the fact that I had spoken to her every single day at school something seemed different. I somehow felt more mature, more independent, and older than I ever had. Stepping into my house I felt slightly out of place. I couldn’t close my eyes and navigate through the dark kitchen, I forgot that on the third drawer I had to shimmy the child lock before I pulled. Now in my junior year at Loyola, there are some friends from high school that I no longer speak to, and there are some who I am closer with now than ever. My father always told me that people change, and there is nothing you can do about it. The only thing you can hope for is that the people close to you change with you, and you grow together instead of growing apart.
When reading “Jasmine” the following quote stood out “I have had a husband for each of the women I have been. Prakash for Jasmine, Taylor for Jase, Bud for Jane, Half-Face for Kali.” (p.197) Because of her circumstances, she was forced to be multiple people, adapting to their own unique situations, constantly forming new identities. While a large part of this was due to the fact that she immigrated into America, I think it speaks as well to the cruelness and pressures of our world in general. People constantly try to put others into molds, difference and the unknown is instinctually terrifying. Throughout the novel, Jase is constantly judged by those around her, sometimes for cultural reasons, and other times simply for being a woman. I think the novel does an amazing job of showing how as an immigrant, and an illegal woman in America, Jasmine was forced to take on multiple identities to adapt to her situations. It is my belief that if Jasmine had her choice, she would have lived in the identity of Jasmine, happily married to Prakash with their dreams, however fate had other plans. In the end, Jasmine had to choose between being Jase and Jane. While some people may have felt that Jasmine was betraying Bud in leaving him and that especially because she was carrying his child should have stayed, I found myself happy that she chose to be Jase. Jase, was the closest identity to Jasmine, the closest not only in the structure of the name, but closest to her culture, and to true love. When Jasmine was with Bud, she did not speak of her culture, it made him uncomfortable, but when with Taylor she was able to be more in touch with her desired identity of Jasmine.
Reading this novel made me wonder about how many other identities I will have. I was a different person after the death of a friend; I was a different person after coming to Loyola. Will I change when I become a true adult and enter the work force? Will I change if I marry? Will I change if I have a child? And as I change and form new identities, will the people I love change with me? Will we grow together or grow apart?