Monogamy, Airplanes and Family…

I spent the morning at the airport and on an airplane from San Diego to Denver.  It was one of the first times in a long time I felt overwhelmed by everyone around me, I felt self conscious.  Maybe it was because I wore a tank top to the airport, something I try my best to avoid.  I get pulled into secondary inspection 2/3rds of the time I fly already, and coincidentally when I cover up my tattoos, it’s a score.  But not today, today I wasn’t pulled into secondary, the security guard flirted with me and gave me his business card, and I made it to my flight with a bold 15 minutes to spare.  But maybe it was because I have a freshly worked on piece on my back that’s crusty, and scabby and has stained parts of my arm with the ink that bled from the open wound.  Tattoos scream an invitation to stare, a crusty scabby back piece screams an invitation to make faces at you that involve judgement, gagging, and discomfort in an unexplainable way.   Maybe I am self conscious because no one acknowledges me when I walk up to the counter and say, “excuse me,” or maybe it’s because of the world I am forced to interact with during the entire travel experience.  It’s like that one time out of your schedule where you are expected to have your worlds collide, in the most torturous and painful of ways, whether by rubbing elbows in tight corridors, feeling overcrowded in the middle seat, bumped in an aisle seat,  or being manipulated into engaging in meaningless conversations with normal people that just need to hear themselves talk.  As I was boarding I was looking at all the faces sitting in the aisles before my number.  15E, a middle seat, damn.  I walked down the aisle of mostly pale middle aged white folks, some with children, others with infants, others in business suits, American flag apparel, sports gear, and many of them with wedding rings on.  They gave me cold stares, and confused faces, the kind of face someone gives you when its clear they think you’re a freak but are trying to be nice about it.  It’s moments like these where I wish I had covered up my artwork, and I wish I was packing something deadly that had made it through security, just so I could indulge in the sight of cutpunching someone.  I dwell in the cloud of pessimism that is overshadowing  the good weather that had come in unexpectedly a few days before.

What’s even more interesting, I am puzzled, intrigued and frustrated all the same by my time spent on this airplane.  I have never been so sure about my politics, my philosophy, and what my heart tells me about myself, as I did in that moment.  I have never felt so sure about the kind of life the universe has given me, until that moment.  I never quite felt so sure about the liberation the I-Ching was speaking about, until that moment.  In front of me was a family of three.  A teenager and her parents.  The mother spent the entire 2.5 hours of the flight either nagging her husband about any fucking thing or prying into her daughter’s personal life.  She was desperately wanting to be cool, mentioning other young men on the flight and asking her daughter if she thought they were handsome.  I almost did a vomtoss right there, on the floor of the airplane.  In my head, it happened in slow motion, I was petrified, outraged and incensed by this woman’s very presence.  I had spurts of dreams in between feeling sick to my stomach and reading for the upcoming class I am teaching.  In these dreams I saw myself reaching over the seat and pulling this woman’s hair, socking her in the face and telling her to stop making her husband and daughter’s life so miserable!!!  LOL, I know it’s sounds dramatic, but fuck!

Sitting on my left was a man, in his thirties I would guess.  Everything about him was perfect.  I pictured him in a fraternity in college, maybe in sports, but definitely straight, definitely a chad, definitely someone that might need to call in to our radio show when it’s finally up and running.  He was wearing pleated cacky shorts and a black button up shirt, a nice thick wedding band, perfectly molded hair, and pretty fancy sandals.  He was handsome and indulging himself in a Boating Magazine and circling all the equipment he was interested in.  I realized shortly into the flight that on his left in the other aisle was his wife and their two children.  His wife was also perfect in every traditional, stereotypical way.  She could have been prom queen, president of her sorority, she could have been a model, she was probably resented in high school and maybe college for her perfect beauty.  I thought of the sorority at SDSU, can’t recall the name, but during Fall and Spring Rush, they wear shirts that say, “perfection by selection,” and yes, she was “perfect.”  I subtly watched them, in between stories out of US Weekly,  she would give him condescending stares and would mumble things to him about his hobby whenever he would show her photos from the boating magazine.   And in between reading, snoozing and being incensed by the family in front of me, I would just watch them, or listen, and my heart would break little by little.  They were married with two children.  The entire time they communicated with their facial expressions, trying desperately to keep their kids in line, refusing to let them do anything.  She would glare at him, and he would give her a shrug.  The cherry on top came at the end when it came time to collect baggage from the stow away area, this is at the end of the flight when everyone is grumpy, and the nagging inflares, the snippy remarks become volatile sometimes, and people just want off… the airplane?  They seemed so unhappy.  The looks in their eyes were saddening, the snippy remarks and glares across the aisle, and ultimately, their frustration with their kids is what made me feel truly sorry for them.  This went on the entire flight, I managed to look into the eyes of most people around me…  it was a harsh reality.  I was surrounded by the American Dream, by the social construction of everything, by societal’s pressures on how we are expected live, I was surrounded by misery.  I was surrounded by complacency, by couples who resented each other, annoyed by each other, and just wanted off… I was starting at society’s nuclear model,  and I thought to myself… god I love my fucking life.  I love everything about my life, and how I live it.  We are brutally socialized with expectations of who we are to be, how we are to live, how to be in relationships, how to communicate, how to live the American Dream.  It’s a nightmare.  I was in America’s nightmare.  And all I wanted was out.  I sat there envisioning the possibility of a crash, I needed an exit strategy, I needed a way out.   I thought about Lost, and the crash and for the first time since I began watching the show, I wished I were on that island, anything to get me the fuck off this plane.

And this is what my mother and I argued about slot of the time I was in town.  I face the constant disappointment of my parents, the constant challenging, the constant questioning of how we choose to live our lives.   I love my mother, I love my father, but seeing the constant disappointment in their faces is heartbreaking, shattering, and miserable.  For having such radical parents, they sure are pretty committed to maintaining the status quo when it comes to gender construction and relationships.  My father is baffled that I would rather take on Arauz, our Portuguese ancestral name rather than Riederer, Matthew’s.  My mother is confused to know that Matthew is making less money than I am, and that he is moving to Tucson without a plan for our financial stability.  She is dissapointed to learn that I am expected to take responsibility for my own car and it’s needs, because you know, “It’s the man’s job,” and that we don’t share bank accounts.  She is heartbroken because she thinks I have abandoned her, but I am heartbroken because in the last 8 years, her and my father have never taken interest, or shown acceptance fo our relationship.  She tells me she just never expected her daughter to be living such a radical life, she always wanted something different.

This is coming from my hero, my mother, who has taught me so much in life, who has shown me the value of work, this is coming from my mother, who I have made all of my decisions for, who I live my life for.  Everything I do is for her, for her happiness, for her sanity, for her dream.  But I feel like a dissapointment, and she feels valueless as a mother.  I don’t know if it’s the stupid piece of paper that states Matthew and I are married that has become such an unhealthy stumbling block, but I would rather burn that piece of paper than to continue dissapointing my parents.  It pains me to know that they suffer, that they feel hurt, and sadness, and anything else.  I want to take their pain away, but as long as I am who I am, I can’t.

Yet, I sit on airplanes like this one and I realize that I love my fucking life.  I am a tattooed queer brown woman that grew up on the border and is proud of her sluthood.  I don’t believe in monogamy, I will probably never have kids, I want to make enough money to always sustain myself on my own, and I don’t ever want to feel the constant desperation of being poor, or constrained, or silenced anymore.   I am a first generation, educated feminist of color, and I live to fall in love with the world, regadless of gender, sex, race, etc.  My partner is my best friend, queer and hybrid like me, and this feels so fucking liberating and so empowering.  I can only wish that someday, my mother, who I love and have always looked up to, can understand how liberating this life is.  I miss her, I miss our friendship.  I want her to be happy, and I want her to be able to one day stop working 7 days a week and enjoy her life, to live it every single day and not have to worry about money, and about me, and about the house, and about my brother.  I want to liberate her too.  But until that day comes, I will continue sitting on airplanes, heartbroken over the reality of America’s perfect dream, and how many people are silencing themselves, their bodies, their hearts, their desires, in order to desperately fit into an unrealistic expectation.

With that, I need to make it clear that I am not hating on people that choose monogamy, or marriage, or raising a family.  I am also not hating on my parents, I love them, live for them, and work my ass off every single day of my life in order to provide them the support they need.  I live for my family.  And I know and love that everyone is in charge of themselves, everyone figures out what does and doesn’t work for them, and I respect all of my friend’s choices, whether it be monogamy or something else.  But I am simply affirming  what feels most important and liberating for me, and what I hope my friends are also doing for themselves:  Always live your life.  Always.

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3 Responses to “Monogamy, Airplanes and Family…”

  1. I appreciate your honesty, its moving and engaging. It speaks to many people I’m sure, honest emotion. My parents worry, they get scared for me. They don’t want me to live in place they perceive to not tolerate my life choices. My mom especially, telling me I should stay in S.F. and not move to the south. Fear that someone will hurt me.

  2. This is so well-expressed. Personally, I’m blessed in almost every way imaginable: I’m white, male, and upper middle-class. I have parents who loved me and treated me well. I am able to segregate my lives in such a way that I don’t have to sacrifice much to live the life I want to live. So for me, it’s relatively easy to say “choose the life you want to live”. For you, the cost is obviously much higher, and I admire you all the more for sticking to your beliefs and choosing the life you have chosen. I think it’s the right choice for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enormously difficult, and that must be acknowledged.

  3. You are an inspirational writer, I’m glad I finally got around to reading some of your blog. Some of the circumstances of my life are untraditional (the spell checker underlines “untraditional” but I don’t care, unorthodox is probably the correct term), and I always laugh when family/friends ask me “What’s your job?” or “What do you do for money?”. However, as far as appearances go, I do blend in with the average crowd pretty easily.

    As for kids, hopefully, as time goes on, a parent will learn that a kid will say or do whatever they’re gonna say or do. Can’t go on very well being a control freak with them, or constantly telling them exactly how to act – they will only rebel more fiercely. It’s a difficult transition. It’s always something when you find yourself saying things to them that your own parents used to say to you, be that good or bad.

    Also, thanks for reminding me how much I (don’t) love flying. Pretty much every flight I’m on, I’ll have that moment where I replay that crash from lost, or similar footage I’ve seen in the media, through my mind.

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