Maybe I’m not allowed to say this. I don’t know if this is right, wrong, the best time, or the worst time ever. But I can’t say nothing. And really…when has anyone known me to keep my damn mouth shut?
COVID still has my parents hanging at the house (rightfully so), not leaving for any reason. So we’ve been getting groceries, medicine refills, and the like. On a recent shopping trip, the last item my mom asked for was Q-tips. In the cutest way possible, she said, “I need tip-swaps, not sure what to call like for clean ears.” We had some extra “tip-swaps” unopened at the house. So I threw them into my giant Stormtrooper bag and we headed to the store.
After grabbing everything except Thin Oreo-Pistachio Cookies (the store was all out), we headed to my parents to deliver their groceries. Once we delivered the goods–and my mom gifted us with an old quilt she’d sewn, and a couple of her old shirts–Ronnie and I headed to Tilton House of Pizza to sit outside and have a properly-distanced lunch. While sitting outside with a sippy-cup of half wine/half seltzer, I remembered that my oversized Stormtrooper, was still keeping guard of my mom’s “tip-swaps.”
an unexpected exchange
After lunch, we drove back over (a mere three minutes away by car) to deliver her “tip-swaps.” As soon as we pulled into the driveway, I saw a vehicle with Massachusetts plates. My immediate thought was, fuck. I don’t know who that is. If they’re Witnesses, my parents may get an eye-full (not an ear-full, they’re Deaf) of scolding because their disfellowshipped daughter showed up. I don’t want them to have to explain themselves to anyone.
I told Ronnie to back out and leave. As he started to back out, I saw a familiar face (even from behind the mask I knew who it was). This familiar person started signing to me from the driveway, “for for? Runaway for?” It was my brother and to my surprise, he didn’t want us to leave; he wanted to talk. I know he loves me, loves us. And I know it’s part of his faith to keep a distance. Do I agree? No. Does it hurt everyday that we don’t talk? Yes. Every. Fucking. Day. So, yeah, I was surprised he wanted to talk. And there was no way I was letting this opportunity slip by.
I got my bear-hug and we made small talk for about two minutes. Then, without missing a beat, we got right into heavier topics. Of course, George Floyd came up. Of course, Eric Garner came up. Of course, Black Lives Matter came up. And yes, our current POS POTUS came up. And after we each relayed our online, and in person, experiences of current events–I listened.
just fucking listen
I listened to him talk about how he still has to fight racism at the job he’s been at for the better part of my life. I heard him describe what it feels like to not be seen or treated as a man in this country because of the color of his skin. My ears perked when he said one of our brothers called him to ask, “do you really experience this everyday? Is this really what it’s like for you?” and when he had to utter a very loud, “YES,” my heart swelled and burst with pain.
My eyes watered when he said he just wanted to feel he had a right to be here; in the year 2020, he still doesn’t feel welcome in the country he was born in. When he said he feels he has very few people to talk to about it, because they just don’t get it, I wanted to cry. And for a split second, I wanted to “go back to the Truth” just so he could find that person in me. He said his heart broke when he saw the footage of Eric Garner, George Floyd… because for no damn reason, he could be the next statistic. FOR. NO. DAMN. REASON.
My point? I listened. And it was easier to do than I thought. It wasn’t an opportunity for me to ask questions or understand my place in this world-turned-upside-down. It wasn’t a history lesson on what, or who, made this country what it is. It was a little sister listening to her brother unload things he’s been carrying for years. I only wish we’d had more time. But the lawn wasn’t going to mow itself and, well, I’m sure his conscience was “on alert.” And that’s ok.
racism is a deal-breaker
I couldn’t jump on the “White Fragility,” or “Me and White Supremacy” book-club wagons; they’re out of stock and I’m not a kindle person. I’ve just gotta touch a book and smell its pages. I also found that being in an online book-club is too overwhelming for me. So, I ordered a few random books I could find, and I’m glad I did because James Baldwin is a gem–where has this beautiful author been all my life?
Since this all hits close to home for me, I’ve gotta stay in my own lane; make sense of things my way. I’ve posted online and although I’m glad my friends and family know they can count on me, social media still ain’t my jam. I went to a protest to see how that felt (everyone was distanced, wearing masks) and although it’s an experience I’ll never forget, it was also overwhelming for me. Being an INFJ and empath, that’s too much energy for me to take in.
What makes sense to me, may not work for others. If one needs to post and talk it out online, do it. Want to attend a protest? Go. If you’d rather stay silent online, fine. Regardless of your preferred method of support, just don’t stay silent when it really fucking matters. When this shit is right in your face and you can make someone’s life better by standing with them, by listening to them as they grieve and express their heartbreak, DO IT. Cuz we’re not talking about our favorite pie flavors here, man. Racism, is a deal-breaker and I’ve ended friendships for less.