An American Love Story in Black and White
We sat across from one another; peach to cinnamon, brown to green, brown to black and in our eyes were love and misunderstandings. We would never fully see things from the other’s point of view. Sure, we could listen and create the kind of dialogue not fit for polite company, but there would always be that barrier, the diverging narratives of paths we never got to choose.
Like fate our hands were dealt and it was fate that led us to hold each others’, too warm, palms across that polished table in a Silver Diner some 2 years ago. He told me about his youth, claustrophobic muggy summers in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He used “ghetto” and meant it in the proper sense. A tight nit community of Polish Jews, his grandmother lived across the street from him as a child. I told him about my younger days spent in areas where I was, often, the source of the much maligned diversity being forced on a good neighborhood in a good part of town; of being pulled over in my own complex. Aparently, we weren’t supposed to be in that area.
The wrenching feeling of truly being alone, isolated from extended family where I was “too white” and “too weird” and viewed with suspicion by the family of friends as “too other” and “potentially dangerous.”
I told him my mistrust is of what he is and not who he is. He didn’t understand and asked painful questions. We argued.
I pried open, with sandalwood scented fingers, the womb of his privilege. Like a newborn, he blinked bleary and cautious, now aware of a world that was not his own. A world that existed out of the corner of his eye, but was never ‘real’ in a tangible sense. “Entitlement” became a part of his vocabulary just as “White people as people” became a part of mine. I saw how my wariness and weariness had turned into anger, and that anger, into hate. I apologized.
We wouldn’t always agree, but from our relationship as friends, lovers, and finally, husband and wife, we gained more of an understanding of where the other came from.
The tidal forces of a shame culture, meeting a guilt culture, sometimes creates blockages in communication. It wasn’t always out of ignorance; sometimes we just don’t speak the same language.
As we became serious and we realized our religions also played major roles in our lives, we both took the time to learn from each other and, slowly, a household altar came together bedecked in offering dishes and candles holders for Shabbat. Our representation of the agathos daimon is tucked in neatly with his favorite menorah.
He knows how special an offering should for Hekate’s Deipnon, just as I know how to make a semi-passable challah for Chanukah and sing one song. (Not well mind you, my Hebrew is shite, but it gets me through.)
Our relationship is FAR from perfect, but it does bring me a little hope that, eventually, the kind of dialogues we share will become ones we can have with others. At some point the discomfort will have to go and we’ll all have to look each other in the face, remove the masks, and be honest about where we stand as a pagan community, as a nation, and as human beings.
The melding of two opposites has created the seeds of birth in our home. We’re the cool “kid-free” place to go where hospitality and laughter flows. We provide stimulating conversation and a hand of Lord of the Rings the Card Game if you are so inclined.
No, we aren’t perfect, but maybe we’ve proven that uncomfortable conversations about race, gender, and religion can be a rewarding experience when you have the right kind of company. Our dialogue has ranged from snarky, to patronizing, to hilarious, and everything in between; but that brutal honesty and expression helped turn us into more than just husband and wife; but allies.
*The above photo is a shot of Mildred and Richard Loving, who were arrested for being in an interracial marriage before miscegenation laws were struck down. You can see more pictures of the Lovings here.