In our family we remember the unpleasantries and the hurts that we have experienced. My mother will regale you with stories about the way her younger sister constantly failed to keep the electric bill paid. And my sister tells of the time when some of our relatives ripped off our mom’s younger brother. We rarely share stories about what made us a family and how we survived the Great Migration. We had land in the south but our ancestors we forced to leave, so the story goes.
But coming north did not keep us together generations have past and the divisions have cut a hole in the things we share. Perhaps creating a hanging quilt and listing our relationships with one another can be a step towards becoming a family once more. I know that our present situation doesn’t work for me any longer.
The couple next door to Lizzy has been together for many years. All around us are those who have been in long-term relationships. And then, there we are, unique for many reasons. Being an interracial couple is still a little different but not nearly so shocking as it was forty years ago. When I talk with Lizzy about her life, it is clear that she was involved in things that, if we had met year ago , we might have become involved. We were ardent troublemakers, people on the left protesting about war, racism, discrimination and the like. And due to genetics, we weighed less than we do now. It took many years before I reached 150 pounds. Now that I am almost 25 pounds heavier, people most often ask where I am storing it. And yes, small wispy women with intelligent eyes were popular when we were young radicals.
But there’s always a danger in starting to go down that road, isn’t there? We start to lose awareness of the gifts that we bring to our relationship. We can forget the wisdom we have gained from the things we have learned about relationships and, life and sex. I hope I am much better at all three than I was back then and that I had excellent women teachers. And (don’t tell Lizzy this but) I wasn’t just attracted to her body. There is her fierce sense of justice, her passion for life, and her hope and desire for recovery also attracted me. Those were things that I heard in her voice the first time that we met. I am almost certain she would not have wanted to help me learn about women’s undergarments. Not every woman wants to take on “a young trainee” to quote the song “Want Ads”. She probably would have voted me out of the party.