I feel like I’m beating a dead horse into the ground and making fertilizer with it, but it has to be said: My life is drastically different from how it was two years ago.
Thinking about all the changes – school, work, family relationships, romantic relationship, mommy status, foreign location, etc. – makes my head spin, which is saying a lot.
I’m the same person, after all, who picked up my shit when I was 15 years old, took my brother with me, and moved from New York City (where I was a student at one of the city’s most elite high schools and constantly getting into all kinds of shenanigans outside of the classroom) to Norfolk, Virginia (home of the largest U.S. Naval base and the place where I decided to be the anti-N.Y. me*). I’m the same person who went from counseling abused women to stomping on men for a living. I’m the same person who taught poetry to at-risk youth on the weekends (where I extolled the virtues of straight-edge living), then had a fling with a pre-eminent drug dealer. And all that time, I never felt like a hypocrite.
Strange? I know. It’s kind of like believing in “honesty is the best policy” with your kids, but telling them that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy exist. Maybe one cancels out the other, and in giving credence to both you’re nothing but a sophist.
Or maybe there’s a grain of awesome in everything, and you simply want to celebrate each of those little grains of awesome.
(I like to believe in the latter. But what the fuck do I know?)
All I know is, throughout all of these drastic changes, I’ve always felt like me. No matter what physical, emotional, psychological, et al., alterations were happening, I knew myself. I knew what I was about. I knew what I stood for. I knew how I’d gotten there. And even if the person I was was the complete opposite of who I’d been before; even if the person I was stood for things that contradicted the person I’d been before; even if the person I was looked and acted and thought differently from the person I’d been before, she was still authentic and real. She was still genuine. She was still someone I could identify with, someone who was never lost on me. Which is to say, I identify with it all: all of the polarities of humanity are within me, and like a true former con artist, I can play into each mindset and find a thread of reality that suits me like a well-worn jacket.
So when someone tells me that I don’t live in the real world? It pisses me off. A lot. Because really, what they’re saying is, my reality is so different from theirs that it isn’t just wrong, it’s foolish and fake and maybe even flipped out. By uttering those seven words, they’re trying to write me off as inconsequential, unimportant, and inadequate. They’re saying that my take on things, my outlook, my experiences, and my perspective are not just insignificant, but that they simple do. not. apply. to. the real. world. It’s strange that they even exist in the first place. Look over here, boys and girls, at the amazing six-legged giraffe, and over here, the woman who doesn’t live in the real world.
I get that I’m different, off-beat, and strange. I get that most people just don’t get me when I say that I think circumcision is wrong; or that I truly wouldn’t mind if my kid ended up a tattoo artist or a couch-surfing hippie or a sex worker; or that I have debt, but I’m finding a way to fulfill my family’s every need and desire while we travel the world; or that my philosophy about life and living includes being a true citizen of the world.
And maybe I’m totally off my rocker, but isn’t that what communication is all about? The back and forth, to and fro, sharing of ideas? Shouldn’t two people continue to stoke the fires of conversation until both parties can either understand each other or simply agree to civilly disagree? And before that bridge of conversation is constructed, shouldn’t there be good faith on both peoples’ parts, so that neither one feels disrespected or belittled? Is that too much to ask for? Huh? HUH?
Newsflash: I’m a mom. That doesn’t mean that I’m not me; it simply means that I’ve changed. It doesn’t mean that I’ve somehow lost touch with the real world, just that I’m paying closer attention to the parts of that world that matter most to me.
Do not sit there on your self-righteous high horse and think you know what’s best or right or real; do not think that just because you haven’t been irreversibly altered by your life experiences, it shouldn’t happen; do not think that the way you see things is the only relevant, justified, and correct way of seeing things.
Or do think those things, but stay far away from me.
* Think: staying home all the time, not messing around with guys, working all the time, and hanging out with only fam.