Not mass produced

I’ve been thinking of so many things. Trying to make sense of my place in higher ed. Trying to make sense of my place in a society that is becoming increasingly anti-intellectual and insular. If you watch the news.

I don’t know if I am different, but I have always felt I am different. Growing up, there seemed to be a clear divide between myself and my peers. I was born, I opened my mouth, with a question. I am reflective, always searching for new lines of inquiry. My critical thinking skills were apparent from an early age. I have distinct memories of my kindergarten and first grade teachers warily accepting my answers in class. Warily addressing my comments. The things I would say. My classmates have memories of this same girl– questioning, curious, bold. Somehow, this was seen as malicious, my love of questions. My seeking soul. As a six year old, learning like a sponge, I did not have malicious intent. I only sought data, facts to grab onto, something to pull me out of the sinking ship that was my world where everything was ambiguous, unknown, unanswerable.

When will I see my father again? I don’t know. Will we have running water in the morning? I don’t know. Will we ever stop feeling sad? I don’t know.

So maybe that’s it. My difference. Just my mind, my whirring brain, my rich inner life. Seeking words and moments and knowledge. I don’t know. But I wonder too how much of that difference can be attributed to my latin-ness. The blood in my veins that comes from the mountains, the desert, the valleys of Mexico and the rivers of unknown America. I don’t know. The shape of my last name that comes from Spain. That came across the ocean and scattered out, and caught my ancestors. I don’t know. I have loyalty cards, membership cards, to clubs I have never been to, but whose ceremonies and social cues I know. What then? I don’t know.

How much of my struggle, of my search, has just been me, trying to fit in. Trying to blend in, because I am different. In what way, I can’t exactly pinpoint, but in a way that is significant and has shaped me and continues to raise it’s little sharp head from time to time. Like when a white friend mentions her offense, her tan parents, her boring partner, her lonely life. When something, anything, jolts up in me, strikes a chord, and I have that inner quiet argument with myself: do I say something? Do I show this side of myself? Whatever that side is that has a different, opposite response, opposing knowledge to what is being presented to me as common fact, common, familiar, all-encompassing experience? Do I counter that with my own?

Do I remind the people who have never felt different that they are in fact different?

What if I instead desire being liked, being loved, and am tired of the wariness. What if the constant reminders of being different are too much. What if these have in fact drowned out, overcome, overpowered my desire to be loved? Then what? The boundaries I walk between being loved and loving myself. Between caring for others and maintaining myself.

Do others trump the self? Does the self trump the others? Neither seems quite right.


Entirely irrelevant

We had too much coffee at brunch. My stomach churns and sloshes. Nothing seems to help the slight irregular movement behind my ribs.

It is early July in Green Bay. The cicadas hum like it’s late summer, but the weather is just becoming pleasant, reliable, and steadily warm. The sun only recently a familiar face.

I enjoy a staycation. I read and read and read. I consider my future as a mother. I consider a future without children. I consider another world for women. I read some more. I cry, selfishly thinking of my own brown-skinned loves. Thinking of all the brown people I’ve loved in my life. I imagine their own deaths, their likelihood of getting murdered. Shot at their favorite bar. Over a beer with their best friend. I cry and it feels like relief. I tell myself it will be okay, although I have nothing to back this up. To prop myself up. To change my feelings of fear. I text my Asian boyfriend who is in New York visiting his Asian friends and family. We talk about Asian murder. I send him the link to the Indian murder. He does not want to read it. I did not expect him to. We change the subject from scary white men to food. Our constants.

I drive to Goodwill. I purchase books for my friend, who is expecting her first child. I am delighted to find a few of my favorite books from childhood. Maybe this new child will get to feel some of the things I felt. Maybe this new child will be like me. Maybe this new child will be a part of my life. I have no idea. I find myself at the dress rack, sliding hangers as much as the cramped space allows. I find myself with a handful. How easy it is to be a woman sometimes. One piece of cloth as an outfit. No zippers, buttons, or buckles. I am excited to wear something light and simple. To feel free in my body and unrestricted in my movement. If only every day my skin could feel so unencumbered.

I come home and sit on the roof. I think about writing. The constant urge. The constant slight vibration in my palms. Almost anxious, desperate, to produce something. Something with shape and weight and feeling. A way to displace all this weight that I gather. A way to keep moving forward. To keep the jitters at bay.