Bleh… I am so damn white. White is boring and passionless. White bread is bland. White walls lack imagination. White is pure and clean, but so lacking in personality. There is no story at all behind being white. A white woman in America, middle aged, middle class. I’m sick of it.
In my heart, I am a sassy black woman. It’s true!! Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Etta James, those are the women who live in my heart. They are full of passion. They sing the blues. They feel things clear down to their souls. They have a song to sing and a story to tell. And me, this little, middle-aged white woman, has a story to tell, too, but I don’t have their outlet. Feelings deep down in your soul is not acceptable behavior in my culture. Instead of draping myself across a piano and moaning the blues, I load my kids up into my SUV and pull out of my long driveway as my three car garage fades into the distance. Look over there, see the impatiens in their neat little pots sitting on my brick patio? Oh, don’t forget to notice my nice patio furniture and the nifty fire ring. Isn’t it all just so perfect? Keep looking. You won’t see any weeds in my fine yard. My grass is as green as a crayon. It’s all perfect, like a child’s drawing. Being white and middle class isn’t easy, you know. There are lots of rules, but no rule book. Our rules are written across the brows of our neighbors. Our rules are written in raised eyebrows and down-turned lips. You have to look closely. You must pay attention.
I’m not a typical white woman. I’m not like the other women in this town. I’ve always known that. I don’t care about the gossip. I don’t care where your kid goes to school. I don’t care how many points your kid scores for the team. Hell, I don’t even care which team wins! I don’t wear the red and black “Charger” jerseys. I don’t sit in the bleachers and cheer for the team. I’m disgusted to see the fat bellied coach out there reliving his high school glory days. Yeah, I went to high school with him. His wife was the captain of the cheerleading squad. Chili suppers, Booster Club, PTA, soccer, volleyball, golf, book clubs. Is this my culture?? Is this what it means to be a white middle class woman? What kind of culture is this?
The girls started back to school today. I took a couple of hours off work this morning to take Lola for her first day of third grade. She was beautiful, sweet, and precious. Oh, how I love that little girl!!! She held my hand as we walked to her classroom. She smiled for the picture I took of her standing by her desk. She kissed me goodbye without an ounce of embarrassment. She will be an amazingly strong and interesting woman someday.
As I walked back to my car, I looked around me. (I seem to be in observation mode much of the time right now.) There were little groups of moms standing around. Of course, they were all much younger than me! I looked at them and wondered if there was a uniform booklet that I had failed to receive. Capris and a drapey t-shirts in a bright color. They all looked the same. Of course, I know that they are NOT all the same. They are individuals. I am not unique. I can’t possibly be. There have to be others out there who don’t want to fit the mold. I did it for YEARS until I walked away from the Stepford mold. I was PTA President for four or five years. I tried my best to suppress myself. I tried really, really hard to be a white woman. It’s been years since I was really a white woman. Instead, I simply think of myself as a woman.
Later in the afternoon, I went into my friend Lily’s office. She is recently (and happily) divorced. Over the weekend, her Facebook relationship status changed from “single” to “in a relationship.” I wondered what was going on, so I had stopped in to get the scoop. It was good to see her so obviously happy. She told me about her new guy, and then she said something that startled me. She said, “You know, I’ve never dated a white guy before.” Once again, I was reminded that I am a white woman. I was shocked by the knowledge that she and I were not the same. She is Hispanic, and I am just a lame, spoiled, pampered white woman.
I told her that I was shocked, and she asked me why. I told her that I had never thought of she and I as being different from each other until she made that statement about dating a white man. She looked at me and laughed. “Pam, what you see here is Work Lily. I cook different foods at home. I speak a different language in my home! We have a different culture.” Ah, how I envied her. A culture. How wonderful! A culture is something that a middle-class white woman will never know. What in the world would I show anyone of my culture? Here we eat Lean Cuisine! You can’t miss American Idol! Would you like me to take you for a mani or a pedi? Why do so many women have such large breasts? Oh, they’re not real, but don’t mention that. The men like them a lot!
No, I will never fit in with my “culture.” The black women in me are singing a song that won’t let me embrace my culture.