The Displaced Bostonian
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Over the years, what I have found out about myself is that I am an army of one. That may sound stupid to say, or even obvious. But I have only just gotten around to articulating that in my own head.
M has told me on countless occasions that I am not a feminist (which is true), but that I am instead the product of feminism. I do not stand up for myself as a woman, but as a human. My thought was always that the woman part came second.
The same goes for things like racism. When I was a young girl, my friend A., across the street, had a boyfriend who was African-American. A family member said, “A. is such a pretty girl, she shouldn’t have to do that.” I remember being outraged but couldn’t fully formulate why. I knew it sounded wrong but I couldn’t back it up with facts or evidence.
Years later, last year, in fact, I was at a bar with my cousin. On one side of the bar were all of the Euro-Mix Americans. On the other side were all of the African-Americans. One girl from the other side comes over and talks to one of the guys in our group. When she leaves, the guy says, “Man, my father would kick my ass if I ever brought her home.”
Now I have the cajones that I didn’t have when I was 14. I pipe up – “Why would that be?” “Because she’s Black.” I said, “So what? What if she were the most perfect match for you in the whole world and you missed the opportunity for the love of your life because you were afraid of what your dad would say?”
He pauses. “Well you’re no one to talk. I saw the picture of you and your White husband at M.’s house.” I said, “That’s my second husband, you ass. Ask me what color the first one was. And while we’re at it, ask me from which countries my other boyfriends before him were from or what colors they were.” Of course, he didn’t.
I am not one to join a group or a cause. Instead I try to stand up to an injustice when I can as an individual and when it is appropriate.
The army of one marches on.
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Some aspects of adulthood are really cool. You can have pizza for breakfast and go out as you please. But no one ever tells you how uninteresting certain parts of your life are going to be. For example: refinancing your home. This is really boring. I asked my friend, A., when it was that we went from talking about guys and music to new house siding and interest rates. She just laughed.
Another friend of mine said what they really need to teach kids in highschool is how to live life. How to get an apartment, how to budget for groceries and pay the elctric bill. I'm thinking, the closest I ever got to that was a class on how to balance a checkbook. Better than nothing I suppose.
Monday, February 10, 2003
Once in a while you get the sense that there is some justice in the world. Last night was not that night. M & I watched a special on cannibalism on HBO. One of the interviews was with a Japanese man who went to study in France. There, he became obsessed with a young woman from Denmark. He shot her and proceeded to hole up in his apartment for a week snacking on this poor person. The French, of course, saw him unfit to stand a trial and deported his ass back to Japan with out a word of instruction to the Japanese authorities. The guy spent 15 months in a psychiatric joint before realizing he didn’t have to be there, checked himself out, and has been free ever since.
Not only has he been free, but he’s a freakin’ celebrity. He charges money for speaking engagements, he makes porn films (where they depicted him biting some girl’s ass) and enjoys this life of sheer fabulousness.
What the hell is up with Japanese culture that they would hold this man in any regard other than contempt, fear for their lives, and pity for the illness? How can they forget/ignore/excuse he murdered and ate a Denmark woman and then celebrate him?
I’m sure this girl’s parents are just thrilled.
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
A conversation last week about a colleague’s former job as a person who placed American school children in cultural exchange programs abroad prompted me to think of my ex. The conversation was about one young man’s experience in Brazil and realizing the truth about what real poverty looks like because of his dealings with a four year old boy who lived on the edge of a garbage dump with other homeless children. The young man was devastated after every morning of picking up these children, feeding them twice and schooling them. His group would simply be bring the kids back to the garbage dump because that was where these children lived.
What prompted me to find this peculiar was not that this lifestyle existed, because I knew that. But I had forgotten that this was where my ex was from: the garbage dumps and favellas.
Listening to my colleague talk about the trials and tribulations of this boy, I began to remember the stories he had constantly told me of his childhood and I felt deeply saddened for him, but in a different way then from when I was with him. I wasn’t angry or irritated, probably because my emotions were not trying to be bought, as I always suspected O. of doing, in spite of his lack of mental stability.
In the beginning of the end I wanted desperately to hurt him over and over because he had hurt me so many times. I realized that our relationship failing was hurtful enough to him because in his mind it meant that one more person had left him – even though this was the first time he actually was the cause of someone leaving him.
It has been over 5 years now since we’ve been apart. I still have a hole in my heart from my feeling as though I had failed him because I could not love him enough to get him to recognize his issues and support him on the road to healing. Logic of course dictates that there is no way I could ever have helped him in the capacity that he needed help. He could not even recognize most of the time that he was indeed in dire need of professional help. Supporting him would have eventually cost me my own sanity, life or both – and it nearly did in both cases.
I know this. Everyone knows this. We’ve all said it: He needed a psychiatrist and pharmaceuticals. How could I have possibly have helped him? I was not equipped.
I have consoled myself a bit with that.
I have also thought that if I wanted to ever have a child (which if you’ve ready my prior blog, is unlikely), I could go to Brazil and adopt a child young enough to have a sporting chance at living a life free of the baggage that O. carried around with him. Then I suppose I would fill the rest of that hole. That might be both selfish and noble, though, and I’m not sure which.
When I heard that story of the four-year old boy in the garbage dump, though, I remembered a little more about O., and how amazing it was he even survived it at all. I forgave him a little more.