I have Mary Tyler Moore episodes on my split screen right now. You Tube, you are the devil, but sometimes you come through beautifully.
Paul bought me season 1-3 of "Rhoda" for one of our first Christmases together.
We met at a hardcore show in the basement of a Food Not Bombs building in Champaign, IL in the winter of 1999. We hung out briefly after the show at his big, gross, party house and he bagged on Canada and I bagged on the size of the semi-ironic (but not so much) wolf painting on his wall. He was intent on moving to Alaska to study wildlife and meet someone that looked like the folksinger, Jewel, and I was intent on finishing up a degree that had become burdensome. He started showing up in Chicago to my perfect one bedroom apartment in Uptown, that I shared with 1-3 roommates.
I was a total mess in the dating department. My missteps don't bear repeating to anyone but my own daughter, save to say that this was different and after a few false starts I threw myself into the whole thing with gusto. We got married in a fever.
We looked impossibly young and doughy and I do not know why we thought we had what it took to make it through. Scratch that– we probably did not have what it took but we got it together anyway. He reminded me that we were both too stubborn to be talked out of anything. Looking at pictures from that time make me cringe. Those were good days, those were not good days.
He works from home in what used to be the Sisters' Chapel. His desk faces the big stained glass window. The room is long and narrow (it's the original front porch) and it is the only space with wall-to-wall carpet. We replaced the eternal flame– a hardwired lamp with no off switch– with an outlet. He shares the room with our beta fish, Dorito, and a second hand couch. Truly sneaks in with her book and her cardboard box "car" when he's not on the phone. The dog parks himself under his feet. He starts working before the rest of us are awake. He works part-time on the weekends as part social experiment/part bill paying mechanism.
He grew up as an only child. So, sibling dynamics are not a lived experience he gets to draw on. I did not imagine my life would be like this, but I could conceive of it. He did not imagine, could not conceive, and I think most of our friends wonder why he hasn't packed it in ages ago over all of this. "Packing it in" is not really his thing. He loves each of our kids so completely. He is constantly thinking of ways to get them the tools they are going to need to thrive.
I don't know why I am writing about him or us today, and it feels self-indulgent and a little weird. He puts other people first all of the time. He is impatient, but stuffs it down because that's what is best for the room. We've only been married 17 years, but they've been full and sometimes difficult. And mostly I want to acknowledge how good he is to us and for us and to me and for me. He doesn't have to be and he is. That's the crux of it, really– all of us do not have to show up or be good or show kindness, but we can choose to do it and sometimes that is The Work we are asked to do. He is a quiet activist, moving through the world in genuine service to others, with no reciprocal expectation.
Today would have been Trayvon Martin's birthday. Many, many young, black men have lost their lives in protection of white fragility. But Trayvon and Tamir and others like them, loom large in my mind. Paul and I are letting our kids move out into the world without us. The voice of the oldest changed over night. My 9 year old is often mistaken for years older, in spite of his small stature. This is not a unique phenomenon. My 8 year old could take a grown man out if provoked. We practice mindfulness techniques and hug a lot. I wonder who will provoke him and I have waking nightmares over the consequences.
Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites: “Children in most societies are considered to be in a distinct group with characteristics such as innocence and the need for protection. Our research found that black boys can be seen as responsible for their actions at an age when white boys still benefit from the assumption that children are essentially innocent"
The High Cost of Being Black in Multnomah County This should leave you in a puddle of rage. There is a neighborhood I walk through often and sometimes I choose to walk in the street because the sidewalk is so littered with phlegm and spit from people doing their marathon training/morning run/stroller jog. Can someone request a "spit sting" in this impeccably manicured neighborhood, I wonder?
"What is surprising is the unexpected, little-discussed daily experiences of black residents who are more likely to be slapped with violations for things that white people rarely even think of as violations.
- Spitting in public? Black people were charged at 27 times the rate of white residents.
- Failing to cross the street at a right angle? Fifteen times the rate of whites.
- Jaywalking? Eight and a half times the rate of whites.
- Walking in the road? Five and a half times the rate of whites.
- Littering? Nearly four times the rate of whites."
Speaking of Protecting Whiteness: Please read about Carolyn Bryant. I think… I think it's hard to think of this as not anomalous. As in, she did this horrible thing, but it was a one-off thing. It's not though. It's not a one-off. White women and white men lie to cover their own sense of entitlement all of the time. I see it in my kids' schools, we see it on the bodycam footage of police officers, we see it at the highest offices of our country. And we pay for it in blood.