The Luster family was originally the Lester family until my grandfather and his brothers moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where it changed to Luster. My family is relatively large: my grandfather is one of five and my dad is one of nine. Eventually he and his brothers moved to Massachusetts and started their own lives there because they’d taken multiple trips up north when they were younger to work with some relatives at restaurants. They got wives and had children and went on with their lives in the North.
I never really experienced the “Luster Life” because I’m from Massachusetts. All my cousins had been to Tennessee or lived there, and I felt different. I felt like I wasn’t really part of the family. Of course I would see my uncles all the time but I continued to feel on the outside. When I was younger my dad would laugh and tell stories with his brothers of the good old times of their youth and their home. I would sit and admire their being so close and all their fun childhood memories, but as I grew older I gradually lost interest in family and its importance.
I began to dread those trips up to Provincetown to see my uncles and cousins. Those stories of joy and home didn’t have the same feeling: they were no longer the funny stories I heard my dad and uncles laughing about—they were the same mediocre stories I’ve now heard for the eighth time. I was no longer concerned about how late we could stay, and I become more concerned with how early we could leave.
I felt bad about not caring, but I just figured it was a part of getting older. My aunts that live in Tennessee come up to Massachusetts to visit usually twice a year or so, and in their last visit my family came up with the idea to have all of us come to Chattanooga. The trip was constantly being pushed back, which annoyed me because the longer it was pushed back the more school work I had to make up.
For video production I had to make a documentary, so I figured I could get a good grade by doing it on my family. So on an early Thursday morning I made sure I had all I needed, grabbed my camera, and was ready to go to my Dad’s hometown.
We finally landed in Chattanooga, and I was enthusiastic to meet all my family members that hadn’t seen me since I was a baby. We drove around from farmland to downtown and I was actually amazed to see that this was where my dad grew up. When we initially met up with my family I was so excited to meet everyone, but my excitement quickly faded and my trip swiftly turned into those trips to Provincetown.
I greeted my family and then everyone sat around laughing and telling stories. I went back to waiting to leave on my phone, when I heard my dad say: “Why don’t you tell them Darius?” I perked up and learned they were talking about the time we went fishing for 6 hours and caught nothing. In that exact moment I felt included. I told my story to my family and everyone laughed. I went on to hang out with my cousins I knew and some I had never met before. I was the one telling stories and laughing with my family.
I finally felt like I was a Luster, and, to me, it was just an extension to my name that had no prior important purpose. I learned that family is what you make it to be. You can be distant and not talk very much, or you can be interactive and close with them. My uncle Larry put it perfectly in my interview for the documentary, He said “I didn’t move away from my family, my family was always with me.”