Saturday, August 22, 2009

What I Remember

It has been really hot lately, for the first time this summer. And of course with the heat comes humidity. All the water in the air makes it impossible to ignore your body. Even right now I can feel the moisture collecting beneath my chin, and its making me wonder how many years of pert under-chin muscles I have left.

For my entire live I've lived in "the tri-state area" and I remember every summer the same: the oppression of humidity, of god's own sweat. My childhood home had plenty of air conditioning and my parents would not hesitate to switch it on at the first sign of discomfort. As I switched on my own A/C this Monday I remembered my father's advice: keep the door to your room shut to keep the air in. It was a strange image: attempting to save cold air like you'd save money in a bank, as if the air was sedentary enough to seal in a tin store away for later.

My parents were frugal, but never miserly. Everyone understands love in a different way. Because of their saving, even of the air itself, I will graduate college debt-free. But money was always the unspoken undercurrent of all our exchanges. There were a lot of things I wanted, but didn't dare to ask for, because I didn't want them to feel my own hunger and dissatisfaction. I wanted them to be proud of me, to think I was too smart to be tied up in some kind of material pissing contest. But they were not soaring over the horses of the material world, they just had simple tastes. Out of all the things I secretly wanted in my teenage years--designer heels, my own cell phone, or a car--the thing that I wanted most was freedom. All I wanted from them was a little credit--not the kind from a bank, but just the acknowledgement that they thought I was capable enough to make my way in the world.

I read once that fear is a sign of error. That the fear of loss is the sign of a false victory, an act of thievery. My parents expressed their love in the language they understood, but it left me unable to love, or to see love expressed in other forms. I was always attaching a number to everything, and whoring myself without even realizing it. I think I let true love pass me by. Not only did I fail to recognize it, but I couldn't conceive I was special enough to deserve it. But everyone deserves pure love.

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