Monday, August 3, 2009

Going Out on a Limb....

I'm going out on a limb here, risking judgment (and possibly rightly so) and all manner of criticism.

Have any of you ever had one of those events that made you stop and question what your values really were? Ask yourself if you were really a hypocrite? Not like yourself at all for your first reaction?

This was one of those times for me.

Sweet Girl was on her first deployment to the Persian Gulf, so of course email was the only way we could communicate. It was somewhat lucky in that I was on the computer all the time, so sometimes we could almost "chat" in real time.

She kept talking about Mike, a guy she had met on the ship. Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. I could tell he was a special guy, and I told her she should send me a picture of him, or one of them together.

Hubby and I were in the Dominican Republic on our first trip there. I went to a little cyber cafe and paid whatever astronomical prices they charged to use the internet for a few measly little minutes. I couldn't stand the thought of missing an email from my girl while we were on vacation. Hubby went with me and stood behind me while I checked my email.

The connection was vveeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ssssssssssslllllllllllloooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww.

There was indeed a message from Sweet Girl, and I clicked to open it.

To get the full effect of my experience, I want you to scroll down very slowly on the picture below.



I was just checking.

When the picture had opened fully, I said to Hubby, "He's just really dark, isn't he?" Meaning tan.

Hubby said, "That would be a no."

I clicked out of the email without looking or reading any further.

I was sick. And I hated myself for being sick.

I had tried to raise my daughter to be open-minded and accepting and not judge people based on the color of their skin.

But I didn't mean fall in love with them.

What does that say about me? My best friend (at the time) was a black woman. We did everything together. She considered Sweet Girl her pretend daughter. Sweet Girl had known her all her life. I couldn't even reveal my conflicted feelings to my best friend, lest I reveal something about myself that I didn't want her to know. I didn't even want ME to know it.

The first time Sweet Girl ever told a story about a classmate and someone asked what color the person was, she was confused.

"Ummmm ..... brown?"

She didn't know that people were colors. She just knew they were people. I was so proud of her in that moment.

I was not proud of myself for my feelings. I was willing to accept whomever she chose to love, but I didn't know if she (or I?) was ready for the conflict brought about by an interracial marriage in a very small, very Southern town.

I couldn't picture Christmas dinner.

Hubby and I left the cyber cafe, and he was smart enough not to say anything. Remember, this is not his natural child. We walked for about thirty minutes without saying anything. Then I burst out, "Five thousand men on that ship, and she has to fall in love with THAT one?"

She was still about two months from returning, so I kept my fingers crossed that it was merely a shipboard romance and nothing would come of it.

I know that's wrong. I want you to know that I know that.

Several weeks went by, and I kept getting emails about Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. Every one of them filled me with dread. I knew I had to support my child if this really was the person for her.

Then one day in an email, Sweet Girl said, "I'll have to send you a picture of Mike."

I replied, "You already did. You were sitting next to one another, and you had a can of Heineken in your hand." [Disclaimer: I cannot possibly be related to anyone who would drink Heineken.]

Sweet Girl responded, "Mom!!!!! That's not Mike!!!!! That's Chief ______!!!!! He's OLD!!!!!"

And I was so happy I cried.

And then I cried because that shouldn't have made me that happy.

She never did send me a picture of the real Mike.


Anonymous said...

Just laughed my ass off because I totally remember when you first got that picture!!! But, I never heard that he wasn't the real Mike.

Julie said...

How do you know the younger Mike isn't also black?! I'm just saying that to poke you a little, but I'm not saying that I would have anything other than the same reaction if it were my child in that situation. I think part of it is knowing the difficulty of maintaining a good relationship and not wanting your child (even adult child) to make choices that you know are going to lead to extra challenges for them. I think if we could all talk as honestly as you about this stuff, we wouldn't need to talk about this stuff anymore. Ya' know?

Starry wonder said...

I did show you the picture of us....the first day I got back from cruise. I really miss him.