I moved 5 times between the ages of 8 and 16. While some transform this type of peripateticism into an ability to adapt into any situation, I transformed it into a means to feel isolated in any situation.
My first move was from Park Forest South to Flossmoor—2 generic, south-side-Chicago suburbs. The former was lower-middle class, mixed race; the latter middle-to-upper-middle-class, mostly white. This move went okay. I adapted to my 3rd grade class fairly well, making friends easily.
Things went to shit on the 2nd move when my mom couldn’t afford Flossmoor anymore and we returned to Park Forest South 2 years after leaving. There had been a white flight in our absence and I entered the 5th grade 1 of 2 white boys in the whole class. All the friends I had left in 2nd grade dissociated themselves from me. I was beat up daily, ostensibly because of the color of my skin, but surely abetted by my obvious sense of not belonging.
The 3 other moves—to the north side of Chicago for 3 years, then back to Flossmoor for 2 years, then to Boulder, Colorado for another 2—were the same situation in different locales. I would be the new kid. I might make a friend, usually some socially maladaptive kid. That friendship would run its course. And because I was never part of any clique, team or group, I would be isolated again.
Isolation became my default setting. For much of my life, I shirked the need for friends and girlfriends for long stretches, sure people would eventually reject me. It wasn’t until I was well into my 20’s that it occurred to me that I liked and wanted people in my life. Continue reading “Praxis of Evil”
No home, a big duffel in hand, a bigger backpack on back, I headed to the uptown 1 train to crash on my buddy’s couch. My body felt like a plucked tuning fork. I heard every car honk, every splash when wheel hit puddle, felt every distant train rumble, smelled the dankness of cold-moisture and curbed garbage, saw every glimmer off the pavement, every swirl in the florescent lights in the train-stop.
The train arrived. I sat and pulled out my notebook. I had just broken up and everything was still and clear. What had brought me to this place was clear—all the lies, all the needs I suppressed. I was done. I had needs. I wrote down what I needed. Someone who listens. Someone who likes reading in bed (or at least appreciates that I do). Someone who is openminded. Someone who cares about the environment. When I rattled off a couple pages of these things, I wrote out a declaration that for everything I listed, I would be willing to deliver the same thing.
I arrived at the 116th street stop. A light glaze covered the bricks of Columbia’s campus walk. I gulped in air. I hadn’t breathed in a while.
I called my mom and told her what happened. I apologized for lying to her (something I would do a lot of in the coming days). Dishonesty cannot be not contained. Lying in my relationship made it easier to lie to friends and family. Since talking about my relationship was dooming it, I quit talking or showing up.
I got to my friend Chikodi’s place. It was 1AM. We talked for a couple hours—about what happened, what went wrong, what was possible now. 2 years of dammed energy were released. There was no way I was going to sleep, so I pulled out computer and started to write.
It’s almost 5 in the morning, I can’t sleep. I just broke up with _____. I’m laying on a friend’s couch. I’ve very little idea what’s next—just a clearer idea of what will no longer be [doing my best imitation of Neo at the end of the Matrix]….I was just thinking about you. How I’d love a lover who I would be excited to have you meet. _____ was never that, and I’m sure it drove a fissure in our relationship….I’m sure there was an invisible but palpable toll on our connection, that everything had to be filtered through the lies that maintained my appearance of emotional and spiritual health. It just wasn’t there…the health that is.
So to long health in a short life.
Yesterday I wrote a post about Peter the bore. It was essentially a diatribe about his inauthenticity, his desire (and resultant failure) to impress, his lack of interest in those around him, and so on. It was a warning to all the boring people in the world to straighten out and fly right.
I was pretty proud of myself for such lucid thinking, deconstructing the aggregates of boringness. I thought I did a real mitzvah to all the bores or potential bores of the world. They could read my post and reflect on and alter their behavior.
Last night, I headed over to my girlfriend’s where we were to have dinner with a couple friends. I printed out my post, eager to serenade her with my mellifluous excoriation of the intolerable.