today i was walking to the berkeley library from BART. i was sniffling down shattuck, sick and grumpy but glad to be out of the house & in the sunshine. i heard a little girl’s voice say plaintively, “daddy, why do you keep hurting me?” followed the sound to a red-faced crying girl of about 4, holding her mouth as though she’d just been hit there. she was walking next to a boy who looked about a year older, and they were trailing a man who was eating ice cream and walking quickly. “you’re clumsy,” he said, as though he were trying to convince himself. “you just fell.”
i started feeling upset. wondered if i should intervene but really what can you do? i have worked for child protective services and i would recommend never, ever getting them involved if you can help it at all. nothing but fucked-up horror stories everywhere, ruined lives and trauma compounded upon trauma. i turned back and openly stared at the dude, hoping that i could at least shame him into acting like less of a raging douchebag in public and maybe get him to think about his actions a tiny bit. he looked back at me and our eyes met. i was projecting you are a piece of fucking shit at him so hard. the look in his eyes said, i don’t fucking care. he was about my age, white, tattooed but it was hard to tell if he was punk or just into tattoos. good looking but not devastatingly so. you could tell that women loved him and he treated them like shit and got away with it because of these good looks; it made me hate him even more. i went to the library and cried in the bathroom, which made a difference in no one’s life and changed nothing. i am getting good at managing the rage and powerlessness i feel towards the sadnesses of the world, but sometimes they flare up so hard.
it reminded me of an incident i haven’t thought of since around the time it happened, about five years ago. i was at 23rd & 8th in manhattan, waiting for emily in front of burritoville. i saw a girl who was probably 12, with her brother who was probably 9, screaming at some sort of father figure who was stomping down the street. i can’t remember the exact details too well, but i remember the resignation in her voice, how she sounded so old. he completely took off, just left these two children on a street corner in manhattan, and she was chasing after him but then she stopped. she turned back and looked at me and i knew–in the way that women are so psychic sometimes with each other, in the way that strangers in new york city share connections in ways that are so meaningful and so real even though you know you’ll never see them again–that we recognized a certain pain in each other. and i wanted to say something to her so badly but i absolutely, in that moment, could not think of what.
now if i had to do that moment over again, i would go up to her and say, “hey!” in that way that grabs peoples’ attention. i would meet her eyes, kneeling if i had to (i’m really tall) and say to her, “listen to me. your life will not always be as bad as it is now. you need to stay strong, grow up, and get away.”
maybe you think i am presumptuous? maybe you think that i am crazy? well you can think that all you want. either you get it or you don’t; either you connect with people that way or you don’t.* if you don’t get it there’s no way for me to explain to you but if you know what i am talking about then you know it so fiercely. of course i don’t know if her life will ever get any better. it certainly could get a lot worse, and while i agree with many of the “it gets better” critiques, i would like to say that i never would have made it out if there wasn’t a voice deep in me saying what i wanted to say to that girl. and i wanted to say it because i am worried that she didn’t have that voice and maybe she needed to borrow mine. and although life as an adult has certainly not been easy, i’d take it any day compared to the powerlessness of being a child. to the daily torment of being a hated child.
in other news (or at least, the other news that i’m willing to talk about here): i have been reading lots of books but finishing none, pondering getting my MSW and/or learning how to drive, listening to one jawbreaker song on almost sickening repeat (it’s “sluttering” if you were wondering) and it’s been oddly healing some residual sludge in my psyche, reading some truly great blogz (current faves: humans, humans and queerfatfemme–check the links bar to yr right if you wanna! they’re both there!) and getting inspired, fretting about my books, and not sleeping enough. goodnight.
*isn’t it sad that i still feel the need to address potential enemies & frenemies? such are the perils of a public blog, i suppose.