So, I got to meet Flt’s family a few days ago. I think it was mostly a convenience thing, like my baby might spew epic amounts of vampiric mucous all over your entire potential for anything and so maybe it’s better if we just lay low where we’re staying, and that happened to be his family’s home.
Some of you have been with me for a bunch of years. Decades, even. And so some of you know that I’ve always said what I thought, but that it’s only been fairly recently that I started saying anything about social change. (And I hate that term, too. It makes it sound fucking trivial or like a perk or like casual evolution that would happen anyway. It’s not the fuck trivial. There is zero casual anything about it. There is hate and death and blood and so much pain, pain in your lungs and all over your eyes and in between your fingers so that you can’t even hold someone’s hand with the lightness and smiles that should come from such easy shared contact. Some types of evolution are not inevitable. Get straight about that.) I started speaking up several years ago, because with Facebook, my world got a lot wider. I loved so many things and so many people with such certainty; it seemed weird not to say something about the systemic and socially neglected hurts that were endured every day. Seeing their defiance about being told to hush helped me see my own silence, not just about their struggles, but about my own, and my family’s. I wanted to be the type of person who stood by her care. That means I need to speak up.
A huge part of that voice grew from my friendship with Alexis (FLT’s wife). We’d known each other in school, but developed a real friendship via Facebook. (Side note: never let anyone tear down the reality of your online world. Not for a single second. They’re wrong.) She’s a musician and a mom and almost always hysterical, but more than any of that, she’s a human who loves only fiercely. It’s unhesitating and unadulterated. And so fierce it steps outside the realm of question. It makes her patient and forgiving and willing to try just about anything, and it colors her every decision.
She talks a lot about social issues (gah. Is there no other term. I fucking hate it). Her posts about systemic racism have pushed me to read more, find more voices, share as often as possible, and work towards functional ownership and change, both in myself and in the white community. The reality that I had missed (even as a biracial female) was so laden with generations, centuries, of unavoidable, inevitable, oppression that I spent a lot of my energy resenting myself for my years of relative silence. The ethnically varied friendships I’d had prior to the last several years had been embraced with the happily ignorant lens I’d worn my entire life. I didn’t see everything I should have seen.
Flt’s home is quiet, even with all of his siblings and their spouses and their kids. I think the quiet was less sound oriented than it was warmth oriented; it’s a soft home. Things that would have been snapped or shouted in my life were simply said, often gently and with the questioning lilt that implied the listener already knew what actions needed to be taken. It’s watchful. The depth and immediacy of what was seen by everyone was intense and unrelenting, even in its unshakeable calm. And, for the first time, I got it. I knew what was understood with a clarity that humbled me to my embarrassed core. His family’s grace and care bespoke a courage and starkness that had roots and an ecosystem: the softness had age and wisdom. I, a justifiably bewildered camel in a banana hammock during any social exchange, spent most of my time trying not to say dick things for no reason.
I tried to frame the honor that draped me after I met them, and visited their home. It’s slipping, though, because my truest utopias are always the most temperamental. I wanted to capture the compliment of that entire day before it faded forever. I wanted to seal my appreciation of it with words that are still soaked in the fevered immediacy of things that are too big to hold. I want the clarity of that day to be something I understand forever, even if the texture of it drifts into the windless pond of other memories. I want it claimed that my gratitude is absolute.