life in technicolor has been abandoned lately. mostly because every free moment i have from work (30 hours a week at an english school) and class (4 classes) is spent worrying that i’m not going to make a difference in the world. is this a common problem among other college seniors and recent postgrads? sigh.
i have, however, been sharing some musings at a little side project that i created for my fast-approaching 23rd birthday. the only thing on my wish list is a list of 23 reasons why life is good and an accompanying donation to the MDA. i’m also sharing random lists of 23 things that make my life awesome.
e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
i am lucky enough to have two dads. now wait- it’s not exactly what you might think.
at 10, my parents split up. at just shy of 12, i found out why. i can remember almost every detail of the day my dad came out to me. i had a sprained ankle, had gotten my period for the first time, and i’m pretty sure we had steak for dinner. but what stands out most was the look of sheer terror on my father’s face as he told me, his only daughter, “i’m gay.” he sobbed, and i did all i could to keep from laughing. did he really think this would change anything? he always had been, and always would be, my dad. now we could commiserate about our boy troubles.
though nothing changed between him and i, something else shifted. growing up in conservative northeastern texas, i was smart enough to realize that my dad’s sexuality wouldn’t be embraced with arms as open as mine. i was attending a small catholic school that banned the reading of a book whose protagonist’s parents were divorced; what would they do to me? so i retreated- i had no desire to remain friends or associate with anyone who wouldn’t accept my dad. i was ridiculed and bullied, but being alone with weezer beat sacrificing my morals.i got tough, i built character, and my dad and i got pedicures.
i love my dad. i’d do anything for my dad. what other daughter gets to high five her dad when his HIV test comes back negative?
fast forward 10 years. my stepdad, my hammy, who is a father to me in every since of the word, is wheelchair bound. soon to be stripped of his ability to walk and talk, he is the unfortunate victim of a disease called ALS. we, his four daughters, are watching him slip away from us. at 22, i know no one wants to talk about it. my friends are getting drunk, graduating, and getting jobs, not thinking about the mortality of their loved ones. i can sense the discomfort when i bring up wheelchairs and handicap-accessible bathrooms. break-ups and grad school and test grades are acceptable conversation topics- disease and death are not.
i’ve seen the looks given to people in wheelchairs. i know from experience how disconcerting it can be to communicate with someone who is physically unable to talk back. it’s hard for me, so i can’t even imagine what it will be like for my friends. “come visit me in miami! it’ll be greta! we can cruise around in my mom’s accessible van,” said absolutely no one ever. to a certain extent, i understand. so i’ve made the same choice i did 10 years ago, suffering in silence seeming preferable to being looked at with expressions best described as a mixture of horror and pity. but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? we laugh through the tears, and cry through the laughter, because a picture of my overweight cat sitting in the new set of wheels does make dealing with paralysis a little bit amusing… i guess.
i love my hammy. i would do anything for my hammy. what other daughter gets to pull her laughing, naked stepfather out of a bathtub using nothing but brute force and a rolled up towel?
so this father’s day, i am renewing my acceptance of my fathers and reiterating that my love for them is there no matter what. we might be
somewhat dysfunctional, but we’re a family.
to the homo and to the cripple, happy father’s day. i love you both so much.
i just wrote a heartfelt, raw, genuine post about grace- not the little peanut growing inside my aunt’s swollen belly nor the kind that ballerinas possess- but rather the kind i hope i display in dealing with the sometimes heavy burden i carry. and then my browser crashed. so it goes.
even though it’s gone, the writing process made it all so much clearer to me, brought so much relief, gave me some perspective.
in hindsight, the post was a little self-centered. everyone hopes they handle their problems- great or small- with grace. we all hope that we survive our emotional traumas and come out unscathed.
my biggest fear is that i won’t be perceived as the happy-go-lucky person i am when i have everything in check, or that i’ll be judged for indulging in what it is that i need to endure this rough patch (which, admittedly, has lasted longer than it should). i don’t want to be seen as damaged goods, but i don’t want a half-assed shield that disguises pain under the surface. i want to be able to say that my trials have made me into the person i am fundamentally and for that personto be wholly happy and well-adjusted. that’s possible, right?
anne (hebrew): full of grace
here’s to learning to live up to my namesake.
sometimes i close my eyes and find myself there. the most recent instance took me back to the chiang mai walking street, standing in front of the jolly cotton candy man, buying a chubby boy a bunch of his own because he didn’t have any money.
sigh. take me back.