The hate. Oh, the hate. It makes me spin. But the light! The Light:
The darkest boy.
There’s a boy at this third job that I work at. He has dark skin. All of the kids are black, but as my seventh graders are learning in science this week, there are so many alleles at play when it comes to creating a human, that none of us are really the same color, not really. And so, it makes sense that I’m taking note of this little guy at my job, he happens to be the darkest boy in the crew of 75 kids.
When I come up the stairs to my classroom in the afternoon, when I round the corner and see him, all of five-years-old, his hair twisted into stubby little clumps, legs swinging in the air, unable to reach the ground beneath him from the plastic chair they’ve got him perched in, my heart shifts a little in my chest–almost as if I can physically feel it opting to make a little more noise than normal. He’s in trouble.
That story that you’re telling, the one that you run over in your mind, trying to make sense of it, that isn’t real, man. No, it isn’t real. It’s not real because it isn’t easy. And if it’s not easy, it’s not love. And I’ve heard once or twice before that love is the only things that is real.
Love is the only thing that is real.
I tuck love away sometimes. Love gets tucked away, put in places where we might not experience it for a while. Other people do this too. Some more than me. But love, woman, love doesn’t wither away, I’d venture a guess that it just sits and waits. Yeah, it waits in a heap of patience no human mind can comprehend. That’s love we cannot see.
I cry in my office for a minute. No more. I’ve been over this before, I’ve taken note of the complexities of complexion. The darker your skin, the harder life seems to be. But does it have more to do with how we see ourselves or how we let other people see us?
This five-year-old sees that I’ve entered the room and looks down at the floor, ashamed. In my heart, I know that he doesn’t deserve to be sitting in this chair, plucked away from play with the other kids. This is why my heart aches a little for him. Life, it seems, is already stacked against him.
When I see him a few days later, he comes rushing over to me to tell me “I’ve been good today.” I can’t help but kneel down to his level. “Buddy, you are good everyday. You are good everyday. You are good.” I’m not digging this new junk about telling a child that their actions are either good or bad. No. No, because that’s a lie. These kids, they’re all swelling with goodness, bursting with goodness. They really are.
You will find me one day, delirious in my painting studio. I will be caked with fuchsia and burnt sienna. I will not have washed in days but roses will be growing from behind my ears. You will rush to bend to me, to inquire, and I will hold your face in my hands and whisper, “It’s my heart. Do you feel it too?”
I’ve felt a pain in me this week that took a day to shake off. It’s a familiar pain, the kind that surfaces when you realize you’re being talked about behind your back. I found myself trying to explain, “it feels like poison” or motioning with my hands to signify the knife plunging in and twisting back and forth. But now, I’m out of it. I’ve left this pain in the hours that have whizzed by in my life and now I am already grateful. In Guyana, one day, one of the boys taught me how to instantly forgive another human being. Gosh do I miss that boy–but, really, he’s right here with me in more powerful of a way than I ever could have imagined. I’m using this technique he taught me, three thousand miles from where he is now.
This moment is here to teach me something. It’s here to make me a more rockin’ me!
And so, I’m thankful for this pain.
I’m thankful I’ve gotta work to find understanding.
I’m thankful I’ve gotta dig deep.
I’m thankful not everyone in the world likes me.
How could I wish for it to be any other way?
This just may be that love. All of that love we cannot see…