Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It's Not What You Think

I'm going to tell you a little something about racism and discrimination. It's not what you think.

Today, I received a message from a prospective client. I'd been providing her with market updates and options for rental/sale sporadically for over two years, as she worked through a difficult separation from her partner. When asked whether my husband and I might be good candidates for selling their joint home, this prospective client informed me via email that her partner said,

“English is their second language and they have yet to sell the property at _____.” She told me not to take it personally.

Three years ago I was taking my oldest daughter to prospective high schools, jumping through absurd hoops, and fussing over every letter in pages-deep applications. We arrived at one 'prestigious' program for a scheduled interview and were directed to a waiting room. There were two other families waiting, too. When the interviewer came into the room and called "Lucia? Lucia Rodriguez?" she looked directly at the two brown girls with black hair, seated next to their parents.

My daughter stood and walked to the door and the woman reacted with a scowl, "Did I call you?"

To which my fair, green-eyed daughter with blonde hair responded, "Yes. I am Lucia Rodriguez."

Nearly ten years ago we were selling a two-flat in a comfortable, middle-class neighborhood. We had rehabbed it top-to-bottom, and at the height of the market, the list price was over $600000.  My husband greeted the gentleman who arrived for a showing warmly, with a handshake, and thanked him for coming. We toured him through the property, chatting, and discussing potential rents. 

When he was leaving, the man slapped my husband on the back and said, "You did a good job here, Amigo. Where are you from?"

"Chicago," my husband told him, pointedly. "You?"

Don't think you know if you don't know. These are three examples of burns every member of my family has endured, leaving scars that build over a lifetime and that do not heal no matter how one tries to apply reason and faith and patience. 

I haven't been drawn into a street to throw rocks at anyone and I don't know that I ever would. I don't and won't condone that behavior. But I have a tiny bit of understanding. I am angry, and hurt, and damaged. And being told to wait for change doesn't make me feel better. 

It's true. English is my second language. So I can kick ass in two languages. Be careful what you say. It's not what you think.

Monday, April 27, 2015

How Good It Is

Seventeen. ((Sigh)) You are in these moments that, later, will comprise some of the greatest of your memories.  Make sure you enjoy as much as you can; don't rush. Even now, you know how good it is. Let the worry have another day. As we all do, by our own choosing, our missteps too, and our persistence toward our truer selves, we all become who we are intended to be. Know only that whoever you are and in whatever ways you will change the world (yes, you will) there will be some things that never change. And that is good. I love you, love you, and wish you happiest of birthdays.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ansel: It's Been a Hard Few Days

Sam wouldn't eat his burger. When I asked him why he said, 'I can't eat this and know he's hungry.'

A few blocks back we'd met Ansel.

On the last night of spring break we went for a walk downtown. Resting against a railing was a dark man with bright eyes and a smooth gravel in his voice. 'Could you help me?' he asked. 'It's been a hard few days.'

Tony stopped to talk to him, while the kids and I listened to his story. Jamaican, he is, soft-spoken. He lost his home as winter began. In the few months since he's learned when to hop the train so he can ride and sleep, he's learned where to rest, away from the blustering wind, where to get help with something to eat. Still, homeless in cold and hungry, he has the inclination to chat and shake hands. He does not hurl rocks at the smiling, glittery people who blush past him from inside Macy's on State. I wonder if I'd be so kind.

We got him a burger and walked back so Sam could stop to give it to him and tell him he wouldn't forget. 'Ansel's my name,' he reminded us.

It's been a hard few days for me these past two weeks. Some days I don't know where it's going to come from, what I need because I'm wearing down, honestly. Wearing. Down.

More than feeling a little lost and tired I've found myself increasingly unwilling to keep trying, to keep battling when what I'd rather do is sit in a chair and read a book.

I hear the good wishes for might and courage. They are good but tire repairs with rest and a cup of hot soup; there is none.

Then I am spoilt and silly and I know it.

And I am reminded of Ansel.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Where is your faith?

Where are you? Are you in the sinning, the suffering, the walk away from honor? Or are you in the dying, the surrender? (And do you die only to be redeemed? Or because you are in your time?)

Did you find the step toward the truth, into the everywhere, into all time? Or are you lifted into the ever after, ascended into the next?

Where is your faith?

I’m always asking myself this question.

That’s what I give. 

I don’t feel fit to rejoice; I’m not even sure this is the day for it. I keep thinking that celebrating the proof is less sure than feeling the thrill of the faith - before the test. 

I cast myself into the shade for my doubt and then remind myself I am made in His image, and so my self is a good and worthy self, even with my flaws, my questions.

There, I find I am most connected, receiving what I think is the message of mine and all faiths.

In all your turmoil, your fear, your hunger and cold, with all that is needed and left unpaid, for all the days you do not walk in hand with your brother, for all that hurts you still there is and always there is room for redemption. Go that way.

Peace to you.