Home Not Home

Kristin Lieberman

  1. I was born in 1955. Some other things that happened in 1955: Mary Louise Smith was arrested for violating Alabama bus segregation laws in Montgomery, Alabama, and Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger and was arrested for violating Alabama segregation laws.
  2. My parents used the word “n-----” when referring to African-Americans. Early on, I knew it was a hate word and so did they.
  3. Not that all Republicans are bigots, but all bigots I’ve known are Republicans.
  4. When I asked my siblings or cousins for help with something and they didn’t want to do it, they would tell me, “I’m not your n-----.”
  5. Later they would throw around this phrase: “I’m free, white, and over twenty-one.” By then I was going to law school on the East Coast and I didn’t engage. I asked them if they knew what they were saying. They did.
  6. I’m pretty sure they are all registered Republicans.
  7. It seemed like there was a liquor store on every block in my town. I was taken to most of them by my father. I checked out the comic books while he made his purchase. If he had twelve cents left, I scored the latest Superman comic book.
  8. My father once told me that he would have joined the John Birch Society, but he didn’t like meetings.
  9. My father was a registered Republican.
  10. My family believed that the only success in life that mattered was pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. A masculine pronoun was always assumed. A woman didn’t pull herself up by her bootstraps, because women did not wear boots.
  11. The examples I was given implied that only white men had bootstraps.
  12. Also: What if you’re too poor to own boots? What if you’re disabled? No bootstraps for you.
  13. I read a lot as a child. This led me to realize that the key to being successful was rooted in education, not in bootstraps.
  14. I never felt like the town I grew up in was home. A place cannot be home unless there is love, understanding, and support. My mother loved and supported me, but never understood me.
  15. The only place I ever really felt comfortable was the public library.
  16. I often dreamed that I was Supergirl and was able to fly away from home. In my dreams I made a home in a spectacular cave, and all of the superheroes fell in love with me. I crushed on Clark Kent.
  17. I didn’t care much for Batman. There was enough moral darkness in my universe without dealing with Batman’s baggage.
  18. After my father beat my mother senseless for the final time, my parents separated. My mother obtained a restraining order against him for domestic abuse.
  19. My father died of alcoholism when I was fifteen. The last time I saw him, I was holding hands with my boyfriend. He shouted that I was a whore and then drove away.
  20. I cried at his funeral, but not because I missed my father. I missed having a father I could look up to.
  21. I ran away to college when I was seventeen.
  22. In 1971 the voting age was lowered to eighteen from twenty-one. I registered as a Democrat when I turned eighteen, at a supermarket near my college.
  23. My first summer home from college I worked in our local doctor’s office as a receptionist. He refilled a lot of prescriptions for painkillers. He didn’t even see his probably addicted patients, he just phoned the pharmacy. One man died the night he received his last refill.
  24. My second summer home from college I worked a split shift at Denny’s, where I got into an argument with one of the regular customers who believed in absolute police power. He was a highway patrolman. That was the last summer I came home.
  25. I’ve always lived in mostly white, sometimes Republican towns. My children went to predominantly white schools. Although I liked my houses, I never felt quite comfortable in my communities.
  26. I have this disquieting feeling that I’m replicating the discomfort of my childhood, but without alcohol or Superman comics.
  27. I keep thinking I should try harder to fit in; then I think I should just move away.

                                         THE END


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