September 8, 2017, Prescott-
Time was, when my friends mostly had blond hair, blue eyes and family names like Smith, Wolfe, Doyle, Burnham, Stocker, Hansen, Murphy, Hines. Italians and Greeks moved in, and my new friends had brown hair and eyes, and their families were the Belmontes, Chassis, Chrisoses, Serinos, Spinellis, Geotises and Statutos.
I still dearly love people who need sunblock, when outdoors, whose ethnic legends are based on the tales of the ancient Germans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Celts, Romans, Greeks and Slavs. It hardly bothers me, that their politics are often rooted in survival and preservation. They will adapt, survive and grow. They are ever my siblings.
Time came, when my young adult self met people whose first names were Lutrell, Antonio, Luis, Angel, Devar, Wadous and Jesus. Their skin was different, but otherwise, they were not. I was, for the first time in my life, the one who had to win people’s trust.
I have come to dearly love people who relish collards and hamhocks, posole, menudo, hip hop, rhythm and blues, Salsa and mambo. It started with Dr. King, who grew in my little white boy consciousness and became a source of pain in my heart, when he was taken from us. It has continued with some of the most essential people in my life, and some of them are in this nation, without papers. They are ever my siblings.
Time moved on, and there came people whose mannerisms, dress, world view were entirely different from all who had come into this one’s life, beforehand. They had names like Thanh, Ty Lanh, Jin-ho, Sook-ja, Tadies, Suhayl, Sohrab, Amal, Javidukt and Mohammad. Some had almond-shaped eyes, which protected them from the incessant blowing dust. Others had tight curly hair, which guarded their scalp, from the blazing sun. Still others wore turbans or kaftas, which served the same purpose.
I saw their presence in my life as a capstone, as a completion of my introduction to the full range of humanity. They are ever my siblings.
Time was, when people my age were consumed with the Red Sox and the Bruins; when gathering around an 12″ television was a major weekend experience; when family trips to Cape Cod, Kingston State Park or Lynn Beach were de rigeur; when my hair length vacillated between “moddish” shoulder-length and buzz cut brevity. Our battles were fought in VietNam, and on the streets of American cities. They are ever my siblings.
Time came, when the next generations were consumed with making money; when our vinyl records were replaced by 8-Track tapes, then by compact discs, then by i-Pods. Birthday parties became occasions for gifting guests, as well as honorees. My hair was like something out of the Middle Ages, then thin, then thinner. The battles of these generations shifted, to the Balkan Peninsula, to Mesoamerica, to collapsing buildings in New York and Arlington, to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya. Equality of colour and gender was seen as largely won. The right to sexual identity became the cause of the age. They are ever my younger siblings, my children and, most recently, my grandchildren.
It is a comfort, this inclusion. I am guarded from those who shut me out, because of all who open the doors of their hearts.
Time is, a most encouraging and gratifying, state of being.