Saturday, November 22, 2008

GUILT, PART II

My family and I had moved in with our grandparents into a big two-story house. My grandfather had lost the ability to walk. I think it was from diabetes but I’m not so sure, but I remember that when we were in the refugee camps in the Philippines one day he just couldn’t walk anymore. So his body hurt, he was always in pain, and Grandmother massaged the blood through his body every day so he could live. I don’t think I quite realized all of it then. But we had to massage him too – his grandchildren. But I really hated it. I think I resented it more than I should, more than I wanted to, and it wasn’t a chore I enjoyed. I just wanted to be a kid.

A few months after we moved in together, Grandfather had finally managed enough strength to walk up the stairs into the second floor of our home. He was on his way down the stairs with my grandmother’s help, and a simple smile of accomplishment on his face. I met him on his way down.

“I walked up the stairs and saw our entire house,” he told me.

I looked at him blankly, “So…”

“Motherfucker."

I can still hear the sadness in his voice that day. I was eleven years old. I think by then you're old enough to know better, to do better. I wasn’t. But that was then…

Thursday, November 20, 2008

GUILT

Last night, I saw the Upright Citizens Brigade in Chelsea. Their show was on guilt. It was riotous, I was impressed and excited about the performers' creativity, and it spurred in me thoughts of...well, guilt. Lots of guilt. Lots and lots of guilt.

***


When we were six years old, Jamal Henderson and I were friends. I don't know if we were best friends. We hung out, our siblings hung out. Our families gravitated towards each other and we created our own land within the world of the school playground. It was our corner of the universe.

We were each other's world for a long time that I don't remember when it changed in my mind. Kids are cruel, though I really don't think they, we meant to be. I am not sure when I loooked at the rest of the world outside of ours - a world we had happily created - and wanted to be part of their world.

The first time Jamal came over to my house, I was sure I wanted more. I wanted what was theirs. There was no going back. Never. Jamal's mother had driven him to my house in the alley so he could get my phone number. He had wanted to invite me to the movies. He had handed me a blank white piece of paper. I pressed it against my refrigerator and wrote my number on it. And I am not sure what happened next, but I crumpled the piece of paper. Jamal bent down to pick it up. I am not sure if I saw the look in his eyes, but he ran out. The paper crumpled in his hand. I saw his mother as the screen door swung close.

Kids are cruel. It was the only time Jamal came to my house. There's no going back.