“Mexicans are only allowed to swim in the pool on Friday afternoons, just before they clean the pool on Saturday mornings.” (Esperanza Rising)
It hit me like a tonne of bricks. The things we suppress in our minds in order to be able to function.
I knew that feeling. I had wondered why she would watch her youngling splash about in her pool for days, inviting one or two of the neighboring kids to join in, but never us. She could see us from her balcony, the five of us in our smoldering studio apartment. She’s nice, I’d think. Always smiling, always offering to help any way she could. Always available to give unsolicited advice. Maybe she thought my kids couldn’t swim. Maybe she was indulging her child’s wish to be left alone.
But one day she called us over. The pool looked ready to be cleaned, but it was hot, and the kids had wanted to go in it for ages. The next day they emptied the pool and started over again.
Another neighbor let her dogs take dumps all around the laundry hanging area. She’s old, I thought. She has a hard time going out for walks on a regular basis with her dogs. Instead of picking up after them, she’d spray the feces out of place with a hose. She’s overweight, I’d rationalize, she has a hard time bending over to pick up what her dogs leave behind. Fertilizer, I’d say, if not for the fact that it was a cement floor.
The hose would happily splatter ripe bits of the gunk all over my freshly washed laundry, which I would then have to rewash all over again. Why can’t she wait until my laundry is dry and I collect it? It’s just coincidence I’d lie. She can’t control when her dogs need to go.
We lie to ourselves. Because the truth just hurts too much. Because if we were truly honest with ourselves, we might just bake sh**cake and serve it to them on a silver platter, with a bright smile and a kind word to thank them for their generosity, and watch them eat it in delight.
Things are good. Be thankful for what you’ve got. But the the humiliations we have to endure, quietly, smiling, always appearing to be content, while burning with anger and disgust on the inside are at times a bit much to swallow.