What it is

I’m sure I couldn’t recall all the times I’ve been confronted, either directly, or indirectly with disdain over what was imagined to be what was there for me in a mixed relationship. What I wanted. What I saw in ‘them.’ Everybody knows already what a white female like that wants. There isn’t any point saying anything.

I always knew that what was really there for me was extremely important. I didn’t know what it was. But I knew it was important. I couldn’t begin to explain why I felt that way. But I knew that feeling was inescapable.

But now it’s so simple, so obvious.

We were Serbs. We’d lived through five centuries of incredibly analogous shit. We had no awareness of any of it, had been lied to about who we were. All we had was the way we felt about ourselves. We thought we were stupid, ugly and worthless. And guess who the most interesting people were over here, to us?  It started with my dad, who was drowning in the worthlessness and spewing it onto everyone around him. He had a very strong need to berate niggers. Who knows? Maybe it diverted him from berating us as much, we who were also clearly niggers, at very close range and extremely vulnerable.

The same man who was clearly mesmerized with the little girl who called him out and told him that none of that was true. The same man who provoked her every day into saying it again, and then rewarded her every day with unmistakable, if inadvertent, admiration.

So that’s the back story, the context to the girl who came of age and had a crush on a boy the very same summer that phrase, “Black is beautiful” was coined, but she hadn’t needed to be told. That fact had already leaped out at her.

Do you have any idea what it’s like to see this person, who’s supposed to represent everything stupid, worthless and ugly and see him transformed, by his own will, into the opposite? What that means? It’s like something you’ve been waiting hundreds of years for. Some miraculous thing that makes the world right and means everything you could yearn for is within reach.

That’s the rush. That’s still the rush. It’s just the deep sense of joy that the world can be right.

I’ll never really see it for myself. He can’t see it either, in himself. And rarely has even a glimmer of understanding of what I’m seeing. And if we were to plumb the depths of what he sees in me, I probably wouldn’t want to know. After all, he does think, incongruously, that I’m white. That’s the pity of it. So much precious emotion so poorly expressed, so poorly communicated. And never, ever reciprocated.

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