It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to.
Yesterday was my birthday. I’m 49.
I wish that, long ago, I had started a log of all the things I learned or realized or noticed since my previous birthday. Like, “This is the year I learned that vultures form a committee and that the London Plane tree has 2 dangling fruit clusters and the sycamore has only one.” Then, I could pinpoint more specifically when I shifted this way or that, and then when I shifted back. My grandmother used to record the weather and who visited on a monthly wall calendar. It would be kind of like that.
This year’s entry would probably be about the increasingly stark reality of the gap between the haves and have-nots. There wouldn’t be a lot of smart observations, mostly just hand-wringing and heaviness and expletives; because I’ll be goddamned, that gap is big and getting bigger, and it serves absolutely no one.
This year, more than ever before, I have directly served schools on completely opposing ends of the socio-economic spectrum. In a single day, I have worked with students living in a Motel 6 on the east side with 5 other family members… and then driven 30 minutes west to work with students who just got back from a cruise, who have private tutors, and whose parents have an attorney on speed dial for when the school doesn’t do exactly as they’ve asked.
Guess who gets the grease?
I knew disparity existed. Duh. This is the first year that it has been lodged right up in my facial crevices in such a tangible/operational way, though.
I don’t know what to do with it.
I don’t know how to be light about it.
I don’t know how to not know it.
I don’t know how to not be angry and sad and frustrated about it.
And I don’t know how to have a conversation with you if you don’t get it.
If you know how to straddle this divide without being a calloused, blind, self-righteous f*cker, I’m all ears.
[Insert wise words about navigating disparity and continuing to be a lovely person who is not a bore at parties.]
I really wanted to write something tonight. I’ve been buried, and words make nice shovels. I really wanted my words to be wise or funny or helpful, or all three. Maybe you want something joyful and sing-songy and dripping with orange and glee. But this is all that is coming out. I want us so so so so so very badly to do better.
That’s it. I wonder what I’ll learn next year.