On Being

The type of work I’ve been doing for the past amount of time (days have bled into weeks, which have bled into months, but whether it’s been two months, three months, or more, I cannot say) has been of such a nature that I have been unable to think. Pieces of writing have come to me, but by the time I have a computer or even a notepad in front of me there is some new task that demands my attention and off I go.

There has been much going on. For starts, we’ve been moving, and the type of work that has been consuming my energies has traditionally been women’s work. This is not to say that my partner has not been there, working early in the morning until deep into the night. He has been. Rather, my point is that I have found myself connecting the dots, filling in the details, and tying up the loose ends. On top of the packing and unpacking, loading and unloading, and the other obvious detritus of moving, I do the caretaking. I make sure we have food, make sure we eat, make the coffee, make the plans…my life has been filled with making, with producing for consumption, and it makes me empty and tired and physically weak until I grow mute and hunchbacked with weariness and pain. Still, this pain has sharpened me. That in my heart I know that this too shall pass is a reminder of my own privilege.

 

We have agreed to aim for and maintain a feminist (i.e., equality-based) home. I think that on many counts we have succeed, but we’ve yet to find our stride and living a life of constant negotiations (which has latently manifested in nearly relentless vigilance on my part) is…difficult. Still, I have ample evidence in my own life that supports that old truism, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for,” and boy, have I been learning how to fight.

 

I didn’t want to move back. Why did I suggest it? I think, because I was tired. He and I have had a lot going on. I’ve been wanting to write about it, but whenever I tried it was out of focus—still too close. For a while I began to believe in those familiar charges of femininity. I really thought I had gone insane.

So, I was tired and we moved back home. I felt defeated. It was as if I’d gone out into the world and it had been too foreign and too hard.

 

I got my undergraduate degree with the double majors of Sociology and Gender Studies. I spent four years reading about structure and situations and the way they restrict life chances. I read Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Patricia Hill-Collins, Angela Davis, Cornel West, Ronald Takaki, bell hooks, Peter Conrad, Peggy Sanday, Susan Brownmiller, and many more. Still, I believed it was my own personal failing that I couldn’t make my undergraduate life work better for me. Everything felt like a struggle, but I think it felt that way because it was. I was trapped in the matrices, the indices, the web, of my skin and social location. And I fought. And I fought. And I fought. Until I began to break. How naïve I have been.

 

I didn’t want to “return home.” To my deep surprise, I haven’t. We are back in the general proximity of where we both grew up, but this place isn’t the same. Perhaps more importantly, we aren’t the same. The kindness here is something I hadn’t noticed before. People here are kind in a way I took for granted before we left, and in their kindness is an openness that is a true gift. Kindness denoting openness denoting trust. For the first time since I lived with my parents I know all the neighbors. For the first time I want to know all the neighbors. They introduce themselves and ask after us. At night I sit in the living room with the windows open and become full on the happy, blurry sounds of their living. I reacquaint myself with this language I used to know and continue to become who I will be.

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