So, this morning was really a great morning. Andy is out of town. It was just Davy and myself. We woke up early, went to the market. Davy had a bagel, I had coffee we picked up a few things that we needed.
Then we met my friend and her kids at a park in NW Portland. I have decided that Davy’s favorite people are 2 1/2 year old boys. She has two of them in her life and they make her giggle and totally engage her in a magical world of play. I think the boy energy matches her own rough and tumbleness. The 8-month age difference is enough for her to take notes on their behavior and skills, but are still close enough in age that they can play together. She loved playing with my friends son as well as her older kids. It was a great park morning. Lots of swings, lots of throwing wood chips, lots of snacks and kiddy laughter. Cassie is a mom I met when we were in process. She was actually the first of my friends who met Davy in Ethiopia. We always have a lot to talk about.
After the park we decided to have Ethiopian food at my favorite restaurant in Portland. Enat’s Kitchen. The food is awesome, and the owners are so nice. They always treat Davy like a princess, hugging and kissing on her. I was thinking that we have really built a nice life for us in this city that I SO didn’t want to move to. Portland has become home, we have made some awesome friendships and finally feel pretty comfortable here.
I was cutting through the side streets to get home, some of them can be pretty narrow. I passed a woman standing in the middle of the street on the phone. She looked pretty upset. Her husband was sitting on the ground wiping something off of their car. They had just discovered that someone had vandalized their car. They spray painted two swastikas on it. I was very taken aback. That image sends shivers down my spine.
I stopped my car and talked to the guy. I just kept saying “I am so sorry, i am so sorry”. He had a bunch of liberal bumper stickers on his car. Very offensive things like “Lets Imagine World Peace”, and Obama sticker, one of those Coexist stickers with all the different religious signs. He said he was just bummed out because he just moved here. I told him that it’s really not that bad here. They probably just saw his car as an easy target. I was so sorry and little surprised. I mean this is Portland right? It’s one of the most liberal cities on the planet.
I am not naive when it comes to racism. Please, it exists in a million ways. I see it every day, it’s as small as someone patting Davy’s head to feel her hair or as big as some of our pending government policies. I am the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. I know what the swastika means and a generation removed, it still made my heart skip a beat or two. I wanted to say to him that it wasn’t sophisticated racism (like voter registration policies). Just meant to elicit fear (which it did).
I looked at my sleepy brown child in the back seat. I wanted to tell her so much. I wanted to tell her about her great-grandfather who had to lie to the the Nazi’s in order to save my father and grandmother’s life. I wanted to tell her about her great-grandmother who lost so many members of her family that sixty years later, she will still cry talking about them. I wanted to tell her about her Poppa Jack and what he went through immigrating to the United States as a kid, and growing up with parents who were so damaged from the war. I wanted to tell her about the history of her own people in this country, about slavery, about how she will be judged differently from white girls. I wanted to tell my sleepy child all of it.
But she is young, and was so sleepy with a belly full of Ethiopian food and blackberry staines on her t-shirt. I would love to shelter her from all the pain that will cause her. I told her that those people were sad because someone had painted a nasty sign on their car. I could have explained more, but I knew at this age she won’t understand. And, selfishly I was glad that she wouldn’t understand. I want to give her as many perfect and happy kid days as I can before we have to have that discussion. And sadly, I know we will have plenty of opportunities.