Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I am what I am

July 18, 1980

She is her father’s daughter, caught between the struggle to become a successful person as a woman and the love of a man.
She fears to become her mother, part of a previous generation when women lost themselves in their marriage and never found a way back out of the maze of mis-identification.
She’s also scared about losing her father and he losing her as life advances and she must take the next terrifying steps towards her own future.
Last night, her father wondered why she had not been with the family, perhaps sensing the inevitable break that her graduation from college brings, something that many undergo much earlier after high school when they go away to college, and not commute.
She’s never really been away from home, a terrifying concept for all of them.
And as much as she wants to be different, and not follow in mother’s footsteps, the two are very much a like, sometimes mirroring each other, something she denies when I suggest the similarities.
I think she envies me and my ability to live my own life, to do what I want or need to do when I want or need to do it.
This came with a price, a forced separation, my revolution from family more turbulent, and filled with wrought. I had no safety net to fall back into if I failed.
I guess she just wants to be seen for herself, who she is, separate and apart from her upbringing, a legitimate need, but nothing she can expect from her family, who will always see her as a member of that clan.
So she must clearly leave her world in order to find herself, and our conversations struggle with all the contradictions, and her taking refuge in her intellectualism as a barrier against falling back into the one role everyone here sees her as.
This is her first summer out of college, which is part of the problem. She spent four years reshaping her identity at school, collecting new friends, forging new relationships with professors and higher concepts, only to graduate and return to the mundane world of family where those things mean less than the old order of her being a daughter.
She also has a dire need to be perfect, and this intimidates me since I know I can’t be, and I struggle just to keep up in her heavy footsteps as she advances towards some possibly unattainable dream.
This is my own flaw. I am intensely competitive. I refuse to allow anything in this world to be “better” than me, and when confronted with things that I do not know or cannot do, I struggle to do better, often falling on my face, often embracing myself, often making myself better because of it.
But it is impossible to compete with a dream.
She wouldn’t even settle for a “B” at school, which makes me wonder what she is doing with a high school drop out like me, and where I will end up if she actually achieves perfection since I know perfectly well, I never will.
But I have no need to be perfect. As Popeye once pointed out, “I am what I am.”

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