Note: I have been working on this piece for a couple of weeks. I am still not pleased with how it’s come out, but I believe it’s because I’m still thinking, reflecting, and musing over our trip (now that we are back home, in Australia). The post below is still not quite right, but here it is.
Hello Deep South. My how I have missed some people who live there, but have not missed you one bit. You have taught me much in my life, and for that I am grateful. Many of those lessons, however, were hard-learned. I learned one truly important thing while visiting family and friends in Mississippi and Louisiana, and family in Texas — I do not want to raise my son in that environment.
If you read my last post, you know that I am at a crossroads, mostly professionally, but also personally. I am willing to go many places in the world to raise the little man, and while on our Southern tour, discovered that I don’t want to raise him there. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a great place to visit, but not to live. I know racism, sexism, homophobia and most other -isms exist the world over, but I don’t want him to have the same (or similar) experience growing up. I was “odd girl out” growing up because I was the “cream of the Oreo” as my brother and I were called — those gleaming white faces amidst our friends who weren’t the color white. I don’t miss the rude things the white kids called me at school; I don’t miss losing my best friend in Junior High because I was no longer cool, mostly because I hung out with black kids.
Not to harp on the negative…There were so many amazing things that happened, but they didn’t happen because of the place; they happened because of the people. People who actually took time to talk with us rather than at us; people who actually considered our little bub when considering what plans to make; people with whom we communicated our needs and they communicated their needs; people who were happy to see us, whether or not there was a camera to capture the moment as proof. These are the people I could spend time with, again and again, over and over. And these were the people who brought the greatest joy to our trip, Deep South, Virginia (still South, but not as Deep!), and California. These are the people whose relationships are worth cultivating and growing, because these are the people who genuinely care and put forth effort to keep friendships going, no matter how big or small the distance. These are the people who know a little bit about what our lives are about at the moment (because they ask the questions and listen to the answers!) and these are the people whom we know a bit about their lives on the other side of the world.
It’s not a competition — who gets to spend more time, take more pictures, etc with us, the baby, whomever — it’s life, so live it. And live it with those who demonstrate compassion, caring and sensitivity for where we are in our current journey. It really does seem that simple. Blood relation means little to me in the face of life; it goes back to the question I ask myself often “how well have I lived today”? And “did I choose love”?