“It’s a question I don’t know the answer to yet: How much should a person’s political views define them? Because politics aside, my husband is kind, and generous and supportive. He’s an amazing dad. He cooks, cleans and drives the carpools. We laugh together and enjoy many of the same activities. We see so much of the world eye-to-eye. I really do respect him. And I respect his family and many of my close friends whose political views don’t agree with my own.
And maybe, in the end, that is what we’re teaching our children: To respect the other side.
I hope we are teaching our kids civility and that one side doesn’t hold all the answers — nor should it. Our country was built on a two-party system and the belief that this kind of tension and compromise is what makes our country stronger. To only see one point of view closes that dialogue. To surround yourself with people who only think like you does a disservice to our country’s goal of diversity and tolerance.
So, our family will never pop popcorn and watch a political debate, throwing kernels at the “opposing” side. Our windows will never be adorned with homemade political posters, written in colored marker and decorated with flag stickers. Even my Facebook page is politically neutral. Sometimes I’m jealous of my friends whose ideologies line up from grandparents down to grandchildren, how free and easy they can be with their views. But this isn’t what we’ve chosen. Our family is different. And maybe my kids will vote with their heart rather than blind party allegiance.”
August is the cruelest month: never enough daylight, too much
heat, no holidays and nothing matters except September’s
dawning responsibilities, but the August of 1994 I was Holden
Caulfield, summer camp senior counselor for the junior trail
blazers, black and brown children two weeks shy of first, second,
and third grade. Nothing is as positive, as motivating a force within
one’s life as a school bus full of kids singing along to the local
radio station blazing hip-hop and R&B. (Imagine this cherubic
chorus riding upstate to Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper.”
[“Muuur-derah!”]) My workday is filled with hazards like chocolate
melted sticky swim trunk pockets, insistent sunburn, and the assorted
rah rah of parental unsupervision, but those bus rides back from
upstate water parks and pools were my favorite times working.
Have you ever ridden in a cheesebus with ashy children asleep
against you, staring at sudden trees — more numerous than project
windows — blurring along the highways like confusion giving way
to doubt, the heady smell of dried chlorine and musty towels
lulling you into the soft timbre of a Midwest falsetto? Tell me
what it is to fall in love with a lightskin girl covering the Isley
Brothers. I was not two weeks into 21 years old. I had yet
to wear a box cutter in my fifth pocket, or see a semi-automatic
aimed at my center mass, to feel its dumbness against my spine.
My life was uncertain, save for its unlikely length under my control,
like the pilot who falls short of what he says, what he says
he’s all about, all about. All my homeboys were still alive, just
like Aaliyah Dana Haughton, not yet an angel of the cruelest August,
begging a boy, who may not be in the mood to learn what he thinks
he knows, to look beyond his world and try to find a place for her.
You and I
Have so much love,
Burns like a fire,
In which we bake a lump of clay
Molded into a figure of you
And a figure of me.
Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,
And mix the pieces with water,
And mold again a figure of you,
And a figure of me.
I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one bed.
After years of marriage, he stands at the foot of the bed and
tells his wife that she will never know him, that for everything
he says there is more that he does not say, that behind each
word he utters there is another word, and hundreds more be-
hind that one. All those unsaid words, he says, contain his true
self, which has been betrayed by the superficial self before her.
“So you see,” he says, kicking off his slippers, “I am more than
what I have led you to believe I am.” “Oh, you silly man,” says
his wife, “of course you are. I find that just thinking of you
having so many selves receding into nothingness is very excit-
ing. That you barely exist as you are couldn’t please me more.”