I have a lot to catch up on! I have all these little notes around my house that I jotted when I would get an idea about something I wanted to write about. (Not having a computer can be taxing, let me tell you.) I figured that if I had died under mysterious circumstances and the police came searching for clues, they would think that I was crazy because of my notes. They're very cryptic and I scrawled some of them on napkins and whatever I could get my hands on so they probably wouldn't make sense to anyone who found them. Here's the first one I'll get to since you've been waiting so patiently:
When I was in high school, I sat next to a guy named Eddie in homeroom. He was funny, charming, and quarterback of the football team. We would chat every morning and he would smile as soon as he saw me. We became friends and I didn't think much about it until one morning he asked me out. I didn't know what to say, but it wasn't because I didn't like him. I am embarrassed to say that it was because he was black. I declined because I knew it would be too difficult to be in a mixed relationship because of others' expectations.
One of my good friends named Dan was black, too. We were on a road trip when we ran into car trouble and had to stop to make a phone call. (Sadly, I remember times before rampant use of cell phones!) We walked into an old diner in a small Pennsylvania town and it was like a scene from a movie. Everyone stopped eating and speaking and just turned and stared at us. It took me a few seconds to figure out that a white girl and a black guy just wasn't usual there. It was uncomfortable and awkward and that experience happened just weeks before Eddie asked me out.
Later, when reconnecting with old friends for my ten-year high school reunion, I looked up Eddie only to find out that he had been killed in a car accident a few years previously. The years that had past from my teenage decision had made me regret my decision. I shouldn't have cared what others would think. I shouldn't have cared that it might cause problems. But I also realized at the time that although I didn't see Eddie differently, others would see us as black and white. Different. If I really saw us going somewhere--which I could--then what would our kids go through? Seeing kids of mixed race being called horrible names and teased made me think I shouldn't fall in love with someone if it would be difficult from the beginning. I probably would have had the same issues with a guy of different faith, too, but I never had to make that decision. (I wasn't asked out much!)
As a general aside: as an adult coping with infertility, I know I would welcome an adopted African-American child into my home as my son or daughter. Years have taught me that my own happiness and convictions override everyone's beliefs of how you're supposed to live your life.
So I cried tears of joy when Barack Obama gave his first speech as President-Elect. I cried thinking I'd never see an African-American become president because of the racism of this country. I mistakenly thought that there would be too many people that wouldn't trust or want a black president. I was proud casting my vote for him, but I wonder if my high-school mentality was the reason so many didn't vote for Obama. It isn't the norm. That's not what a president is supposed to look like. Others won't like it. Thankfully, enough people went against the "norm" and voted with their hearts and brains. I cried because I was so happy that we as a nation seemed in sync and that the world that people like Rosa Parks, Martin L. King Jr., and others lived in just 40 years ago no longer existed.
If only I had been brave enough then...