June 12, 2020
I drove through the sunshine. I turned off the radio, thoughts turning to wishes and dreams. I wondered about personal change.
I need to change. “Like, yesterday.” (I also need continual lessons in proper English grammar…yikes.) As I look to the events in our country, particularly the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, I realize I can no longer write with a half-heart as I have with ‘The Brick Dandelion”.
I did not intend to be half-hearted. Who does? But I have not met my mission. The months of the pandemic passed by. I did not write. I submitted the responsibility I believed I had, or espoused to possess as a writer, to my own insecurities. Those insecurities were masked by my own egotistical humility. “Oh, I am so humble.” “Oh, I have writer’s block.”
Yuck, pooey, and phooey.
In March I wrote about the viral village. In April I was writing to contrast public, social pandemic experiences with those of my own self-discovery. My personal journey paled in comparison. My life was drastically out of touch with society at large. Throughout the pandemic lockdown I was dubbed an essential worker. None of my associates, co-workers or I would really refer to ourselves with that title, but we kept working. A lot.
As the state government placed regulations upon travel and gatherings, we prepared ourselves with a letter of necessity from our company. My daily commute included overnight clothes, badges and my trusty letter. My travels along a major US highway became a near solo experience with extended stretches of only pavement and budding trees; an occasional semi-truck and my lone blue Jeep Wrangler.
Throughout these times I have been blessed with a healthy family and doubly blessed (selfishly) that my son needed to continue his second year of college at home. My life has been deliciously full.
Gulp. That was the original title of this writing. Back in April, this was the title. I hang my head at its potential misstep. Or would it have been?
“Freak,” I call to myself in my head. I cautiously smile at the inappropriate word “avenged.” In the days preceding Easter, during Passover, that word meant the world to me. I can still see the morning of the particular commute. It seems now, like years ago. I began retracing the years since 2015. In 2015, I went through a divorce, was in the midst of a major commercial construction project and I was fired from a job cruelly and without warning. My attorney and my marriage counselor (and, my soon to be ex-husband at the time) all encouraged me to begin legal action for what seemed to be discrimination and wrongful termination.
My employer was a church and its parochial school. I decided not to.
As I drove on that particular morning, I reflected. For the thousandth time, I retraced the months of that year – the conversations, the happenings, the harassment. I remember a fellow co-worker humming the Wedding March as she gathered her children from my care. I was in the midst of divorce. I remember the jokes about the Jews during Bible Studies as I sat with my Star of David bracelet.
My drives are forty-five minutes of solitude through forest lined highways. They are good roads and well maintained. I liked the solitude. I prayed, thanking G~d for the kindness between my ex-husband and I. My son is well, engrossed in his studies and working. The major renovation project continues albeit at a snail’s pace. I have sold one of the brick commercial buildings. But the termination still felt unresolved.
In the years since, the only apology I ever received rose from a church elder’s kindly wife. I never received an explanation much less an apology. Frankly I am rather in awe at the events of that year. I had been known as peaceful and agreeable, veering away from confrontation.
I had been teaching at a hometown church. I had been the homecoming princess, the near 4.0 student, the principal’s daughter and second in her graduating class of over three hundred students. You might say that people knew me. I had one or two evaluations in the ten years I taught. An evaluation? It just was not needed – I had students writing and debating in class, we had active, participating lessons and….
Are you shaking your head or pounding your head against the wall in dismay at my stupidity?
In that beautiful sunny morning drive, my mind skipped to thoughts of apology, revenge and vengeance. What would be perfect? What would the perfect apology be? The perfect apology or any apology is not going to happen. My ‘life clock’ is ticking. I am fifty-four years old, spending my mental energy upon people who hurt me. My mother said it best when she wondered why I would bother with people with such bad manners.
True, mom. True.
My resolution came with the idea of perfect vengeance. I prayed. Combining the philosophy of ‘fake it ’til you make it’ with faith, I pondered, what if vengeance was already done? Who was I to think that I had any right to know about it? If I have faith, then I would have faith that my Lord had already avenged me and my honor.
I.was.avenged. And my mind was stilled.
“The Brick Dandelion” was born to share those experiences – the heartache and challenges and the resolutions I have found. As management, I would never or could I ever treat an associate as I had been treated. There are laws. There are also ethics and morals. Additionally, I never wanted anyone to feel alone as I had felt.
I have been through quite a bit in my life. It seemed that to share those experiences – if it would help or comfort just one other person – would be worth the risk and fear of exposure. But I had not really done that. Not at the rate which would seem useful. I realized this when I had a breakthrough in mindset yet I could not share it. Or, I was too busy, too tired, too lazy.
Then Mr. George Floyd was killed. Five years ago I had just a whiff of being discriminated against. I did nothing. I was silent. I paid a horrible price personally and professionally for that silence.
Now I am part of a management team which leads three hundred associates. I am a mother to a twenty year old son. I have a responsibility to leave this world a better place than I found it. Racism in the United States should have been solved fifty years ago. Discrimination should not even be on our horizon. I would not be a leader nor a mother if I remained silent. And, I would not be a writer if I did not pursue an understanding. Further, I would be ridiculous to propose to write meaningfully about my own development while ignoring the world.
This post is the post I have been dreading, yet needing to write.
I had a survivor story to share with you, but I have not really done so with a full head of steam. Any less an effort is not my best. I am absolutely scared to evolve The Brick Dandelion. I am terrified of breaking the thread between the past and the now.
Yet, I must. I wish not to keep reheating those leftovers.
I have been avenged. And that makes my own change possible.
Seven years ago this song became my anthem. Pre-divorce and midstream of those years of incredible heartache, my soul ached. As with all great anthems, I listened repeatedly, crying harder and yearning for more tears.
I am listening to a playlist from that time in my life. Like an old friend, I smile with recognition, then cry with the acknowledgement of the battled years between then and now. My soul is grateful. I lived through it. My family lived through it.
Pause the World.
“Pause the World” is my expression of the impact of the killing of Mr. George Floyd. I am not into making statements. I am especially not a fan of exposing problems without an intention of solving them. I do understand the unveiling of problems is the first step. But I wish not to stop at that point.
My next steps in understanding racial injustices are the research and discussion of parts of the problems and the solutions which have been earnestly presented. I am shocked at how little I know.
I have survived my experiences of harassment, discrimination and cruelty. They were nothing in comparison to the recent, race related killings. I can only imagine the impact upon the psyche of generations. Avenging the effects of racism is impossible. This video was my own beginning.
Thank you to my readers. I will continue to write, to create, and to present online. But if I have learned anything, it is that life is too short to not be honest about ones true essence.
I wish you love, my loves…
May G~d and the universe be with you always.
The Brick Dandelion, tbd.,
~plus a kiss, just sayin’…