Sunday, August 14, 2011

Four Women - Nina Simone

Went to see The Help today with my sister and a few people we knew.
Pass the tissues.
I was just barely holding down fort and the woman across the aisle from me (who happened to be white) was letting them rip. She was like a river or a gushing fountain. There were times when my eyes were so blurred, the only thing which eased the sadness was placing my hand on my sister's swollen belly and telepathically saying "don't worry, you won't have to deal with any of this, but never forget those that did."

This film came at quite a timely moment in my life where emotions already run rampant and high. I was listening to Four Women in my car last night and that song always makes my voice crack just a little while I belt out the lyrics with passion. With every year I gain more and more insight into the lives of the strong women I came from. There's still a lot of anger there but the human heart is resilient and unstoppable. Having just returned from Mobile, Alabama to visit my 84-year-old grandmother, I have arrived back home with the usual feelings of disappointment and guilt. The older I get, the more my Grandmother opens up to me. She was a maid her entire life, similar to many of the book's characters. On top of that, she raised nine kids (not to mention the ones which weren't her own). The only kind employer she speaks of is the one who would urge her to take home dinner leftovers for my Mother and her siblings. (Which proves that even when times are rough, there is always kindness to be found). If I had any wish for my Grandmother, it would be that she could just have a little fun without worry. I feel mixed emotions of sadness and guilt for how easy things have often come to me and my constant inability to be happy or satisfied despite the trials fought by those before me. I live in a cozy house with roommates where I have my own bright, beautiful bathroom (no outhouse for me, ever). And yet you can find me crying into my soup on a regular basis over many a stupid boy. It all makes me want to grab myself by the shoulders and shout,

"What the fuck, A?"

See how that works? You feel guilty for everything because nothing will ever be as difficult as those times (and the many long years before them).

I used to be uneasy around my Gran because the contrast between our lifestyles is so large and stark but I now see our similarities for what they are. We're stubborn, we're strong and she shops for a church hat (or "church crown") with the same joie de vivre in which I scour Neiman's for Marni shoes on sale.


Peas said...

Love this post. So much.

L.R. said...

Oh I can't wait to see that movie! I downloaded the audio book for my mom and she's been calling me in for tissues from all the boo-hooing.

My mom was raised in Richmond, VA and her family had a nanny/maid named Daisy. My mom told me about a time when Daisy took her downtown to do some shopping and they rode the bus. The bus driver wanted to separate them since Daisy had to sit in the back. My mom may have been about 4 years old and threw a fit that no one was gonna tell her she couldn't sit with her Daisy so, the bus driver never messed with her again and she always sat in the back of the bus with her.

I'm angry for you. I feel guilty for things I've never done. It's just such a stupid stupid sad time in our history.

And yeah, your grandma is totally adorable!

K.Line said...

Gorgeous post!