Friday, August 27, 2010
#152 – RECALLED TO DUTY
This Reagan thing, this Iran-Contra thing. This Reagan government in power only because of anti-black racism in the South and in parts of industrial states too. Maddening. It feels personal. Like my mother voting for Nixon and saying he had to be good for America because he was so intelligent. Like my mother saying, after I was drafted, that at last I was doing something worthwhile, for the army people are the backbone of our country – which was something she said about just about anybody who did not take chances and had no aspirations – like the people at places where I sometimes worked only for ready cash – all these people were the backbone of America. Something like all of them back then saying why couldn’t I stop causing so much trouble, why couldn’t I be more like my good twin brother?
And is was these pictures from the past that were coming in that seemed to have more reality than the pictures I usually dwelled upon – the exotic times abroad – the erotic women at home and abroad – never mind long lonely times between times of high excitement. Never mind that there were dead-end places far from family – fake British versions in Hong Kong, fake French versions in Beirut.
Maybe, I am thinking, I still need the foreign adventures to give myself credentials as a person of non-family substance. But it is these people of the present, all of whom I know only from this past years who are my world now, I think. Again this dedicated band of people who understand the darkness of the past. Maybe the only people I should deal with now.
And yet I also knew is was a balancing act, holding together these moments with these people, holding together my new version of the world.
It was a cold November now. This aunt of mine in the White Mountains who had been calling, I had picked up the phone thinking it would be someone else, and I had gotten her – and it was about what she had been calling about while I was away, the awful thing that happened to her, which was that her daughter Lauryn, my favorite, had wound up in a battered women’s shelter in the Midwest, and she thought Lauryn probably deserved it, for she was just too appealing for her own good, and besides the aunt had always liked the guy who wound up beating up her daughter. This mother, my Aunt Alice, who had been my favorite aunt.
Yet again making me wonder how I could ever have thought these things would ever happen otherwise in this family, this family that had once seemed if not completely safe at least a place that should be safe. After the phone calls she had written me saying she would be in the city in the winter and was looking forward to all the things she would be doing with her favorite nephew. I am hearing this at 50 years old.
And now I write her saying I will not see her when she comes to the city. I don’t want anything to do with her – with someone who blames the victim this way. And I felt relieved, for this was my first direct hit at the family in these days I was annihilating them in my mind and in my program rants as I moved in and out of a personal past that got darker and darker. But even though relieved, I also feel that in writing that letter I have done something violent.
And now I hear from Lauryn’s brother, my Cousin Rob, who is an actor but so careful he lives in Princeton. He says that Lauryn has returned to the White Mountains. And isn’t it awful what happened, and he is sorry he is too busy to go see her. And I know I have to turn my probe on Rob too, and I also know that very soon I must go to New Hampshire again.