People say men should never cry and that love conquers all. But let's go to the story.
One day Rachel entered our class. Two years older than me (I was nine), a few inches taller and with a full head of hair that made her look even taller (and her head was no small by any means).
Soon she became the leader of the group, and I became her friend.
There was a little problem, though. Race, in our world, was a little thing never talked about but always present. And that little thing made a world of difference.
We started going out, after a few years as friends, but of course her family wouldn't allow me to visit and she had to meet me a block away from her place. You know, that little thing....
It didn't work out, and during a vacation (I was fourteen already), they took her away and she came back changed, because she had met someone.
Of course we stayed as friends. Although I couldn't visit her at her place yet, due to that little thing never talked about but always present. I cried for days, but it is not a crime to cry when you're fourteen and you're crying over a girl.
Her family wanted Rachel to marry that guy badly. Ray was exactly the kind of man they wanted for her: same race, and a lot more money than they had.
Too bad, though, that his family was not in agreement. The other little thing people didn't mention but was always present was money. And poor Rachel had the right skin, but her family were paupers compared to his.
And so, during a whole year (because by then she was in love, already, or perhaps in love with the wonderful future that could open up to her), I called him on the phone (on the phone that little things like social class and race cannot be noticed) and passed the call to her, because otherwise his mom would hang the phone on my friend.
I did it just to see her happy.
And one day I had to leave my country for good (I knew I was never to return, or at least not until the political situation changed completely, which would probably take half a century or more), and that day, I already eighteen, I saw her for the last time at the airport. She came disobeying her husband, and we hugged as the great friends we had always been.
And I cried on the plane all the way to Buenos Aires, but it was ok because it's not a crime to cry when you're eighteen and you're crying over a woman.
I couldn't leave a forwarding address, but I've had news about her once in a while, sometimes in a very unexpected manner. I kept traveling and going here and there, and life wasn't too kind to me, it didn't provide me with a chance to settle down and live a calm life.
But she did achieve all the wanted in life. And that is great, because after all she was my first great friend and, even, perhaps, my first great love.
Lawrence Durrell wrote that a man can only do three things for a woman: love her, suffer because of her, and turn her into literature. Well, Rachel, I loved you, I suffered because of you, and one day I'll write much about you. Although perhaps I'm not ready yet, and I must admit sometimes I almost feel like doing what wouldn't be ok to do at my age.
What you wrote is so beautiful and deep, I wish we could chat over coffee and be friends. Finding that beauty is something I'm doing, perhaps my main purpose being here.
But I need to take the garbage out first. Somehow, I know I'll never be a bitter cynic and at most can assume such pose.
I'm too aware that the world is a beautiful place, *even without love*, to keep angry at things for long.
I'm going through a period of crisis, I guess. The political situation in my country is changing, Natives there for the first time have power, and I'm getting ready to leave and go back there after over 17 years.
It's going to feel strange. It's scary, too. Because I've lived in a world where I didn't fit, where I've been considered a 'threat' and had regular visits by law enforcement or the secret service to see what I was up to, where I've felt harrassed and denied much (consider the education I have and that I'm blacklisted to work in what I could work).
My own country has been a focus of exploitation for long, and my people have been treated like animals. I wanted somehow to find love outside my land, not just because I couldn't go back, but also to feel some hope, to feel that the world didn't hate us or didn't care about us at all as a people.
I know it may sound strange, but it is sad having spent half of your life here and there and having, in the end, as baggage, nothing but bad experiences, rejection, suspicion and harrassment.
I sometimes feel despair over the future of the world. Because if people really don't give a damn about those who are different, then what hope there is?
Now I plan to go back and I am scared. I've spent all my adult life away from Bolivia. I don't know how it is back there any more. It may be very different from my dreams. It may not be a refuge for me at all. I might have become a foreigner to them after all these years living in and absorbing other cultures and languages.
I'm scared. Sometimes I even worry about our chances of getting invaded by the USA or our neighbors now that we have a Native government (it's what usually happens down there). I might be going to a country that may need to have an armed resistance soon, and I hate the idea of having to shoot at people.
All I hope is that somehow, perhaps over there, I'll find a person special to my heart who will, for the very first time in my life, correspond to my feelings with her own.
But enough. Thank you for your note, it's a shame you're too far to have that coffee together.
After reading through so many of your posts I simply have to say that the problem is really not about race, ethnicity, it's about "difference." Some people simply cannot tolerate people who don't seem to be the "same."
On the long and winding road...
I have been rejected for being a foreigner, an American, a brunette, the wrong ethnicity, for speaking the wrong language. Once I was too old....and another time I was too young. Too this, too that. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
It used to drive me crazy because thought IF ONLY I could be more (fill in the blank here).
But since then I have also dated a few people who were so self-conscious about which categories they themselves did or didn't fit into that love died like a flame without oxygen.
I have ultimately decided that people whose minds cling to simple but inflexible categories even though their hearts long for someone outside of them are simply not yet ready for love. [let them grow more; they're not yet ripe]
Because really, when you really think about it even two people who seem the "same" from the outside on the checklist of categories still live in the worlds BEHIND their eyes, which are theirs and theirs alone.
And though it's more difficult to walk the path that tries to get past all the "spot the differences" and "let's play opposite" games in order to try to glimpse a bit of the worlds there behind their eyes, I've discovered that even just the trying makes the world behind my own that much more beautiful.
I?ve been broken before
I know what it?s like
To see something funny
And not laugh
I often wished I had never smiled
Knowing how to
And not being able to
Is worse than never knowing
Sometimes, when I see a child walking
I can go on for a while longer
It?s because they are clean
And they have hope
They make me believe in something
But when there is nothing alive in me at all
When I?ve been battered down
Or the sound of them,
When I have to let go
Of something or someone
When I have to say goodbye
That?s when I know what it?s like to see something funny
And not laugh.
Letting go is hard Cyup; harder for some than others. But don't ever be ashamed to express any emotion you feel. Real strength is being able to do just that!