Monthly Archives: November 2011

To everyone I have lost:

Reblogged from 18° 15′ N, 77° 30′ W
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What we’re celebrating today.

I have a friend who is a quarter Native American. We were talking about what we were doing for the holiday over our Thanksgiving dinner on campus, and she laughed and said her family doesn’t really like Thanksgiving, for obvious reasons. And that was when it hit me, that Thanksgiving celebrates many of the same atrocities that Columbus Day lauds, and it’s a bit hypocritical for me to abhor the latter while wholeheartedly celebrating the former. I feel obligated to recognize how problematic this holiday is, how we are officially celebrating the exploitation and subsequent near-destruction of a people.

But there is one major thing that separates Thanksgiving from Columbus Day: no one knows what we’re celebrating on Columbus Day, except a day off of school or work for some. On Thanksgiving, we know what we’re celebrating: family, friendship, love, and quite a bit of privilege. We journey across the country to visit our families, taking part in old traditions and creating our own, cooking together, laughing together, sharing memories, and remembering how much we really do love each other, even if we don’t get together as often as we’d like. Today, Thanksgiving is meant to be a day of joy and togetherness, and so even though the day was created out of terrible legacies, I am thankful for what it has become in modern times. 

First and foremost, this year I am thankful for my family and all of our relative healths, and that I can sit in this room typing this with my grandmother reading a book on one side of me and my mother on the other side. I am thankful that we are all able to come together and cook this meal together this year, a tradition I hope we’ll be able to continue for many years to come. I am thankful that my grandmother wants to write her recipes down into a cookbook, and that she wants my help. I am thankful for the counter full of sweet potato pies, some of which have my name on them. But most of all, I am thankful for the powerful powerful love in this room, even when it comes in the form of teasing. I am thankful for my loving father, and my caring older sister and niece, and my recently re-discovered ex-step-brother, even though I couldn’t be with them this holiday.

Next, I am incredibly thankful for Princeton, as corny as it sounds. Nearly everything about my life as it stands today is unrecognizable from my life a mere four years ago, and the change is for the better is the vast majority of ways. I am obviously thankful for the academic atmosphere, the classes I’ve taken and the incredible minds (both of my professors and my classmates) that I’ve gotten to work with, and for the myriad opportunities I’ve been given (financial aid, job, internships, mentors, acting, leadership, trips to Broadway, meeting famous people). I am thankful for the friendships I’ve spent various fractions of the past 3.5 years cultivating; I mean it when I say you all have changed my life for the better in so many ways. I might even be more thankful for the lessons I’ve learned outside the classroom, as taught by my friendships and other relationships, than for that which I’ve learned from books and lectures. I have learned myself by knowing you. 

Two particular subsets of Princeton deserve shout-outs. Firstly, I am thankful for what I will call “Black Princeton,” being “the Black community” ambiguously defined, as well as the Center for African-American Studies and the Carl A. Fields Center. You introduce me to sides of myself I didn’t know, eased an uneasiness I hadn’t even been aware of. I always say I “learned how to be Black” at Princeton, and that was all you, and I’m so incredible grateful. You taught me the meaning of community, both in giving me the all-inclusive-ness I desperately needed and in giving me the space I needed to branch out. And secondly, I am thankful for the community I branched out into: Quad. I am thankful for the somewhat haphazard series of decisions that brought me to you and to the officer corps. I am thankful for the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, majors, and ideals we share, and the ever-expanding dinner table and large library where conversations that explore this diversity happen. I am thankful for having been turned into a functional alcoholic responsible drinker, and for a safe space in which my inhibitions have been lowered to a level I’m much more comfortable with. Both of these communities have changed me fundamentally, and I don’t know what I’d do without either.

I am thankful for my friends from childhood/adolescence, because even though sometimes I feel like I’ve drifted away from you guys, as soon as we have a good conversation or hang out, it’s like no time has passed at all. I’m thankful that we grew up (and are still growing up) together, and that after all these years, many of my memories with you all are still counted among the best of my life. 

I am thankful for the privileges I have been afforded, for technology, for my job, for the #Occupy movement, for online shopping, for dreaming about roadtrips, for music, for clearance racks, for Integrated Gmail, for etsy, for ebay, for libraries, for my health, my memory, for being able to help my mom when she needs it, for feeling appreciated, for having others to appreciate, for the fight for social justice and equal rights, and for the struggle, because growth must be rooted in frustration. I am thankful for my life, and everything it entails. 

A conversation I just couldn’t have

I saw S, one of my oldest friends, for the first time since early September last night. We had the obviously necessary catch-up conversation about how school’s going, how surprisingly unweird relations with my ex are, and what kinds of jobs I’m applying to and where on my end, and how moving out of his mom’s house is going and whether he likes his new job on his end, and Thanksgiving plans and fabulously boring love lives on both of our ends. It was touching to listen to him protest to me applying to jobs in faraway places like Chicago and California, and when we hopped in the car for a late night Wawa run, I realized that there was one other thing that has developed in my life of late that he should know.  

Sitting next to him in the semidarkness of the car, I mulled over how to bring it up. I opened my mouth and closed it again without saying anything. You shouldn’t deliver bad news while someone is driving. You also shouldn’t do it once they’re back in your dining room enjoying a turkey bowl and donuts. You shouldn’t do it while you’re exploring etsy together, and you shouldn’t do it after he yawns and says he should be getting home. Life is full of inopportune moments for this conversation. Is there a right time? How do you say, best friend from childhood, who once made my mother a macaroni necklace for Kwanzaa and whom she often refers to as her favorite son (my little brother’s existence notwithstanding), my mom has cancer?

Compounding all of this is the fact that I’m not entirely sure I need to tell him. Does he have to know? (Of course, when something happens with him, I tell my mom and she is genuinely concerned. I know that he would care.) I just…this isn’t a topic for casual conversation. I’m not at a point where I can discuss my parents’ illnesses in the context of catching up with someone. I wish he read this and just knew; that’s how everyone who knows but E, K, and my dad found out. I feel like a hypocrite having shared this with people all over the internet, but some things feel too close to home to be shared with people I distinctly feel as though I’m losing touch with. I don’t want this to become one of our regular topics of conversation. I want to stick to safe topics. I want our most complicated things to revolve around our love lives or how this process of trying to grow up is going.

I don’t think I’m going to tell him, unless we somehow start talking about my mom and some sort of seamless segue seems possible (which seems highly unlikely). And maybe that signifies all sorts of terrible things about how I’m letting my friends from childhood/adolescence go in favor of my Princeton friends, many of whom I’ll probably let go over time in favor of the friends I form in later places and times. Maybe there’s a level of emotion that I can’t bridge with them anymore; maybe we’re just not close enough for them to need to know everything about my life anymore. 

And I don’t really think I need to feel bad about this. It seems…like a natural consequence of personal growth and relocation. This post may seem like a counterargument, again, but…I feel like it’s different talking about the details of my life with people who haven’t known me and my family since elementary school. And if that’s unfair…life’s tough. Get a helmet. (Boy Meets World ftw.)

Itty Bitty Confesssion Time:

I will not post the Katy Perry song because her existence tends to annoy me, but…

I kissed a girl. And I liked it. (No cherry chapstick was involved, however.) Like, an actual kiss as opposed to just a little peck. There was some very minor tongue involved and I had my hand on the back of her neck. A room full of people may have been cheering us on a little bit. She was sober and I wasn’t particularly drunk. 

I’m glad this finally happened, though I was expecting it to happen for the first time with someone else. Anyway, the experience was brief and passionless (more like exploratory), but all in all quite pleasurable, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something towards “earning” my heteroflexible identity, if that makes sense.