In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Full Moon.”
Last night, just like Saturday night, I sat watching the local news. There really wasn’t any other option on the 1000 channels Comcast provides me with. See, I live just south of Baltimore, Maryland and last night was some of the worst vandalism the city had seen in over 45 years. People so angry with their lives that they took to looting their own neighbor’s businesses in order to make a point. The news reporting people being upset that the rec centers and schools were being closed. People upset with not having opportunity. But most importantly they felt like they weren’t being heard.
I’m white, 43 years old, and live in the suburbs. The exact opposite of what was being represented on the television screen. My parents gave me and my brother every opportunity to achieve and succeed, sometimes they may have made it too easy for us. They grew up working hard, just like their parents. My post high school education cost over $500,000 with not an ounce of debt, an all cash transaction. I can’t relate to what these people are going through. I read it in case studies dealing with unions in the 1920’s, it’s not the same as living it daily.
Sometimes I joke about the doors my family has been able to open over the years. There’s a museum in Pennsylvania where if you share my last name, the ropes come down and you get free reign of the building. My nephew has access to places and things other’s could only stare at through glass. There are actually pictures of him standing next to a sign that says “Do Not Touch” while he is holding the objects!
My father has been readying his own retirement and his company shifted him into a role where he still has a vast amount of influence, just not the daily grind. All these people started asking him to stay, or offering thanks for his work should he finally decide to hang it up. Those are big shoes to fill. I’ve tried over the years, hell we share the same name even thought I one upped him in the degree collection department [yes, that extra Master’s counts Old Man!].
Why do you care? Well, really you shouldn’t. None of this affects you unless you know me. But it goes to show that years of hard work went into building these reputations. Years went into providing something that I was handed so easily that others are fighting in the streets to have a small piece of, and it confused me to watch.
I hope they understand later when they wonder why the jobs have left that it was because no one wants their business burned to the ground. That local bar you looted, that was your neighbor who was trying to provide for his family. That CVS where your grandma used to get her pills, that you burned to the ground, means she has to get on a bus and travel miles for the same thing. The Church were your cousin got married, now is rubble.
When my daughter died I railed against the machine, against God, against everyone. I was angry, and I still am. But I didn’t burn Johns Hopkins to the ground. Sure I internalized the pain and grief so much that it is still a center of angst for me. The worse damage I did was to myself, some to Whitney because we couldn’t talk together about it, but mostly to myself.
The prompt was supposed to be about some change that happens one mythical night. That’s great, but true change doesn’t work like that. And if there is something so glaring in my character that I know needs to be different, hard work is the only thing that will make it worth a damn. The people rioting don’t know that the change they affected will take years to resolve.
But to give an answer to the question, I would love for one night to be able to talk to a friend. Just get over the pain and play a board game for the night. It’s stupid, it’s simple, and it won’t happen. But boy can dream!