Writing 101, Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

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Within the past year, I met two new people. Real, live people whose names I choose not to divulge. Though it is unlikely they will read this post, I am not ready to communicate with them on this level. But, “I do know for sure,” our “acquaintance relationship” will never develop into a “real and trusting friendship,” until we have an honest conversation about what I have shared in this post.

If our eyes met in the Exercise Room at the Y, on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., Georgia Hubby and I would share a nod and a brief smile. For three years, Georgia Hubby and I followed this ritual; and I saw no reason to do anything more.

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In all honesty, satisfied with the status-quo, I would silently say, “I know who you are,” but, “I really don’t want to know you.” On the surface, Georgia Husband seemed like a nice enough man, but, I had already formed my opinion of him. Based on two things, Georgia Husband is a:

WHITE MALE from GEORGIA with a SOUTHERN ACCENT

Georgia Hubby and My Hubby’s “acquaintance relationship” upgraded a teeny-bit to a “small talk relationship;” and; I eventually entered the “small talk circle.” Late last year, Hubby and Georgia Husband, scheduled a date for us to go out to dinner and meet his wife.

Georgia Wife is petite, barely five-feet tall, probably weighs no more than 120 pounds, still in her forties, and very focused on her career as a health care provider. I was surprised at her striking contrast to Georgia Husband, who is at least 6 feet tall, retired, 69+ years, and a happy house-husband who is quite comfortable in this role. Something, I have rarely, if ever seen.

But, again I couldn’t see Georgia Wife and my relationship going beyond a casual “couples dining out” because she is a:

WHITE FEMALE from GEORGIA with a SOUTHERN ACCENT

As we begin to have deeper conversations with the Georgia Couple other questions arose; politically, Hubby and I are as far to the left as they are to the right.

Perhaps, I can overcome the “differences” when I feel comfortable enough to express that a “difference exist.” Georgia Couple is probably assuming that Hubby and I share their views because we have failed to offer a counter-argument or voice our opinions. Politics, poverty, race, and other social issues on unfair conditions and unequal treatment, are difficult conversations to have.  Especially, with those who see things differently.

Summer vacations, as a girl, spent with my grandparents in rural Mississippi was the training ground that taught me to fear WHITE PEOPLE from the SOUTH who spoke with a SOUTHERN ACCENT. Yes, my grandparents were guilty of stereotyping, but their lives were self-programmed to fear based on the inhumane and often vicious attacks against black people in the south during their lifetime.

Compounding this, I lived through a period when scenes like the following were occurring in the south.

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Overcoming my stereotypical views of the Georgia Couple will take work. I do not fear them; but, my perception of their past life experiences as well as knowledge of their current beliefs creates a major barrier to our entering into a “real and trusting friendship.”

But, I have not given up.  This could very well happen when I decide to have an open and honest conversion with the “Georgia Couple” about my current values and beliefs as well as open up to them about my  past life experiences.

 

 

18 thoughts on “Writing 101, Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

  1. Very powerful post. I hope you write another one if you ever have that conversation with them! And I’d love to read other posts about your life.

    BTW……I had some confusion when you used Georgia Hubby part of the time and Georgia Husband at other times. But I figured it out! 🙂

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  2. amazingly honest post! thank you for this! very understandable how difficult it must be to develop a deep and meaningful friendship, but one never knows…..

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  3. dear Yvonne,

    very well articulated with such raw but essential candor. exposing this part of what helped form your attitudes is heart-wrenchingly enlightening – I so wish you, nor a single other person who grew up in the circumstances of such hellish (and murderous) discrimination, never had to suffer such awful fear. seeing the graphics of your racist environment as a little child and on through even when older, and knowing that it has yet to be fully conquered – I just can’t imagine how devastating it feels. thank you for allowing us to at least pay some sort of witness to it , and inspire us to always try our best to be mutually good and loving and compassionate citizens of the universe.

    much love,

    Karen xoxo

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    • Karen, I am so sorry for the delay in responding to your comments. Our youngest grandson graduated from middle school in Wisconsin on May 31. Five grandkids, and we have been there for every — kindergarden, lower school, middle school, high school, and college graduation. They were all within a short drive, until we retired in Florida four years ago, so it now takes a little more time and a lot more money. But, the trip and experience was well worth it. I write about these issues on my blog as a way of passing down a little bit of my history to my children, grandchildren and future generations. But, it also helps me when I write about these experiences because for so many years it was there, it bothered me, but I never was able to talk about it. Thank you for your very supportive and insightful comments.

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  4. I hope that you are able to forge a connection with the Georgia couple, that you find in sharing your past life experiences, you enable a peace-filled, loving friendship with them where you can bond. Perhaps it will give you peace as well. ♥♥♥

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  5. “What Karen said.” (Because Karen is the utmost in commenting.) Yvonne, this is a very powerful post. You have so well described the tipping point between “I can’t trust you” and “Maybe I will give you a chance.” I have not experienced that tipping point as an under-represented racial minority. But I can see it, within the confines of my own life frame of reference. And I am very impressed with your openness. xoxoxo.

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