Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tomorrow and Tomorrow

I'm just a 12 year old white kid, walking down a gravel driveway, picking apples and dreaming of what my life will be like one day when I get a job or get married or have kids. It's hot and the sky is blue, blue, blue and life is simple and filled with canned food, deer and elk meat and boots and jeans. I'm a wildflower; my great-grandpa told me so. A wild rose, vibrant and defiant growing out of rimrock on the hillside.  Snakes bother me and so do ticks but not much else in the world. It's wide open.

I am 27 and living in a nice suburban neighborhood. I have a job but mostly am a student. I spend my entire spring break reading a series of seven books, one for each day. I used to be so happy to be married, to not need for anything and to have a closet full of nice clothes. My life is far from the backroads of the North Touchet river. It is never quiet and the neighbors are all alike.  I am lost. I am alike.  I plant roses and strawberries and eventually a garden and some trees but there is not enough to do, enough to keep my mind off of the idea that I do not belong and that I may never fit in.  I want more. I want something real. I look out the big picture window and feel narrow.

I am 35 and have been divorced for five years.  I live on the second floor of an apartment building with my cat and have one friend who I see all the time. I teach in a prison and see injustice as a way of life. I see the broken system, the poor punished disproportionately, the mentally ill incarcerated instead of helped.  I visit my grandparents often because they are very old by now and are not long for this world. My beloved great uncle dies, and I am honored to speak at his funeral. I am a raw vegan except for hot, burning coffee.  I hate being stared at every day at the prison. I hate the rumors. My grandma talks to me some months later since I am thin and tired and drinking way too much alone in my apartment. "Go home, to Oklahoma, where people love you." I move, return to graduate school and both of my grandparents die.

Tomorrow, I defend my dissertation. I still have my cat. Four white men and one white woman will vote and I will be magically transformed into a doctor of philosophy.  I do not know how one goes to sleep one night as a regular person and suddenly becomes something else the next day.  I am dragging my feet on revisions, writing blog posts and putting off doing my real work until now.  I do not want it to be over. I did this so that people would be more obliged to listen when I talk to them about injustice and suffering. I want to help. I want to be the change, as they say.  Now people might actually listen (because of a stupid credential? Really?) and I am not certain I have anything worthwhile to say. I am still a wild flower, but older, wiser and slower to speak. I pick my way down the hillside into the wide, wide world and never take my eyes off of the sky.

1 comment:

  1. You have a lot of worthwhile things to say, this I know to be true. :D