Granted I wish this on a daily basis and have since I was 16 ½, but I really wish he was alive today, right this moment. Because Dad could always find the good side of any situation, no matter how horrible and terrible it was. After all, this was a man with a ticking time bomb in his head that could have killed him at any point in the 7 years he walked around with it, who would always fail to complain that it stole his ability to work,, to drive, that the medication used to keep him some sort of stability stole his speech, his motor skills. If any one should have complained about everything, it was my dad.
But I know what he would say right now to me. I know he would tell me that it was ok to be disappointed and afraid to walk down my own driveway to get the mail. That it was OK to be angry that my sister was arrested, berated and made to feel like a second class citizen for the sole reason of being a black girl with a Hispanic last name going to work some overtime for spending money to go to London. It's ok to feel like in the 44 years I have been alive that things haven't gotten better—they've gotten worse. And worse.
But he would remind me that there is no other country in the world that I could have these feelings and not be worried that I was going to be carted off somewhere. He would be disappointed in me for saying that for the very first time in my life, I am ashamed to be an American. That it has taken 44 years for me to finally realize that I am still a second class citizen, or to even have that thought. He believed in this country that gave him his education and his wife and his children. He believed that no matter what, that it was better to be here than to be anywhere else in the world.
I used to cling to that optimism, that the 'American dream' wasn't a steady job or the chance to have nothing then build yourself up. No, for him, the very existence of this place, where the opportunity to be anything you wanted to be, even if it was to be a ditchdigger...that was his American dream and he would be disappointed that for the first time, I have lost that hope.
Because I can't honestly believe anymore after living in this awful place, with its awful people and its blatant hatred, that there is any part of it that is for me. I want to go home. I hate living in this terrible place where I WILL get arrested because I can't possibly drive the car I drive or be a professional. I am tired for being looked at funny when people walk up to me, demanding help in the store and look confused when I tell them 'I don't work here'. Not from embarrassment, but exasperation. Like 'how dare you not be here to serve ME?'
This isn't the world he wanted us to live in. these aren't the things he wanted us to feel. But it is. And it makes me angry and hurt. This was not what he came here for. This wasn't what he wanted for us.
So for the first time in my life, I have to take active measures not to be caught in places alone at night. I worry constantly that the next phone call I get at 1 in the morning isn't that they arrested my sister for driving with a suspended license, but that they shot her and killed her. For being 'threatening'. That I have to be forced to be asked my opinion on something then get the look of OUTRAGE when I express said opinion my my BOSS. How dare I be so silly to be furious with Paula Deen for saying 'the n word'. You stupid idiot, how do you not understand that wanting your brother's wedding served but the real-life equivalents of lawn jockeys is NOT ACCEPTABLE? And that people might actually be offended by this?
Dad would be hurt that I want to be done with this horrible place, but it is the only country I know. Where would I go? Trinidad? Jamaica? Somewhere else? Would it be any better? Could it get any worse?
I have never been ashamed to be who I am.
Fuck this stupid state. Fuck it right in the right ear.