My grandpa Trav died. He was old and it was a peaceful death after a few falls. Probably one of the sweetest men anyone’s ever met. He loved my grandma Nena til the day he died, which has got to mean something.
My aunt called me to tell me this. I was already crying, feeling sorry for myself because this year’s been hard. I cried some more on the phone with Donna and then watched a movie about a guy getting cancer and marrying his girlfriend impromptu style just to die 128 days later. So you know I cried out that one glass of water I forced myself to drink yesterday.
My aunt told me my cousin got a job offer in NYC and she’ll be moving here next year after she graduates college. The family’s worried she’s going to lose her values in coming to the city. My cousin’s a 21-year old wwwwwwhhhhhite appearing, god fearing, Republican sorority girl who uses the N word freely, posts pictures of her ass on Instagram and plans to work in finance.
I want to know which of these values they’re afraid she’ll part with.
What they’re really afraid of is that she’d turn out like me. Or at least their idea of me, which is hilarious because I’m still incredibly naive and about as pure as the driven snow…on day two when it’s still cute and novel and not yet peed on, compacted and mixed with salt and grime.
In Tucson I had this cleaning lady my dad would bring to my house because I couldn’t clean to save my life. I don’t know why. I just couldn’t. So it was clean for four days and then slowly turned into the talking trash heap from Fraggle Rock.
I didn’t clean and I also didn’t cook. So I made smoothies with protein powder and Daily Harvest containers of pre-portioned frozen things. It kept messes to a minimum, but I still managed to be a slob.
Somehow, the cleaning lady got it into her head that my residue protein powder was cocaine. She told my dad and my dad confronted me about it. Now, I’ve since seen vials of cocaine and people with familiarity for such things have familiarized me with prices for various quantities, so I know things.
If I had that much cocaine just strewn on my countertop, my father shouldn’t have been worried about my alleged illicit drug use. He should have been worried about my extravagance and wastefulness.
But that’s just it. For however naive I am, my father and his family are basically cave people looking at shadows on the wall cast by a fire they don’t know exists, making up legends and tall tales about monsters that lurk in the dark.
Whatever danger that girl could get into in NYC, she has already been exposed to at Pi Phi mixers by FIGI boys. And if they didn’t want her becoming the love child of Gordon Gecko and Jordan Belfort, well maybe they should have steered her away from becoming a fucking FINANCE major.
NYC is gonna shake that kid, but I knew her at 14 when she was already talking about getting an abortion if the issue ever came up. When I was 14, I didn’t even know how sex worked. My level of sophistication was limited to finding the right shade of Revlon lipstick that perfectly matched my actual lip color.
These people are afraid of snarks and grumpkins.
But people who fear evil and go looking for it in others rarely understand how intimate a relationship they already possess with it.
The other thing my aunt said is that my cousin has been offered a job that the bank said “usually goes to men.” As in “Women don’t do this job because women just want to make babies.”
And my cousin’s a “family girl who wants to make babies and live in sunny California.”
They think it’s a flex for this 22-year old to take a job that’s usually given to men. As if that’s a accolade or a gauntlet instead of a HUGE FUCKING RED FLAG!
How do I know? Because when people warned me about going into private practice as a woman and how partner track was for men, I saw it as a challenge, too.
My dad’s side of the family come from peasant immigrant stock. They believe God favors the industrious. They value money and they see financial success as the marker of a good person.
I was never going to be a part of that because I was mixed goods. I had a Protestant dad and a Catholic mom and they each undermined the other’s beliefs and values enough to make me not take any of it seriously. I didn’t go looking for trouble. But my curiosity nagged at me like the loosed end of a label that I was gonna peel off a bottle if it meant the death of me. You called something a sin and eventually I was going to check it out for myself to see what it was all about. I was afraid of the monsters, just not enough to keep me from dangling my arm off the side of the bed into the nightly abyss.
It hasn’t yet…killed me, I mean. And I live in a place where every measure of sin is available for the right price. It turns out that my morality came about more from exposure to hypocrisy than good Christian values.
There was a point in my life, or a succession of them, when I had to become comfortable with people believing lies about me and creating narratives that meant I’d lost at life because I don’t work in an office, wear a suit, and have a bunch of plastic trophies on an oak credenza.
I’m obviously not hashtag winning. But I’m also not crippled by shame at failing at a lie.
My aunt told me a bunch of gossip about my uncle and aunt out on Coronado that basically amounted to my aunt choosing her cats over my uncle and spending exorbitant amounts of his money on a herringbone driveway. Yeah, cats and bricks. So I can imagine what legends and tall tales they’ve concocted about me to keep the snarks and grumpkins at bay.
I’ll take notariety over religious sobriety any day, but especially on Sundays.