I am the father of that family that is irresponsible because there are six of us.
I am the father of that family that is “not really” poor because we own a refrigerator, video game systems, and cellular phones; Cable TV and internet.
My family does not receive state or federal assistance…yet. My wife and I both work 40-hour per week schedules but we rarely make 40-hours worked in a week because I attend school and we attend to our children’s needs. Add family obligations that must be undertaken and my wife and I scramble to maintain both ours and our children’s health and well-being. Our love is strong and fierce but poverty rolls its eyes at love.
This isn’t a plea for help. I write this because we are invisible.
It is simple, really, we consume more than we can afford. With this understood, I write this to show how easy it is to be invisible…not to lament.
I write this because I recognize that I see how deep a hole is only after I realize there is a hole.
I write this because others must recognize when they may be in a hole, or if they aren’t in a hole, to see one is near.
I write this to remind myself to teach our children they will have it worse than we do. They, too, are invisible. Their chance at visibility comes when they escape the gravitational pull of our last name. When they stand on their own in the universe far from where their father and mother are; stars in distant reaches…unnamed and insignificant. Yes, those fleeting moments; our children’s orbit does not decay but their potential is greatest when they are no longer bound to us by Newton’s lessons.
Those fleeting moments in time are there because we know what it means to be invisible so we push our children to stay lit.
Invisibility swallows whole those who stray too close–It waits for that moment and absorbs us to maintain its superiority. Invisibility’s will does not bend without considerable amounts of force…much more force than my wife and I produce at this moment. So we move forward, together, and fight against our disappearance.
Still, we are not beaten. We have shelter and love. We have clothing and warmth. We are fortunate to choose what we eat and at the same time know food will not run out before our next paycheck. We juggle bills but know how to keep the lights, gas, and water on–pay what we can, when we can, and stay one payment ahead of the shutoff.
That one payment, though…miss that and we’re fucked.
It is not eloquent but it is truth. Too many will tell us that our problems are made of our own ignorance or stupidity…to grab our own bootstraps and pull harder. Too many will scold me about language before they empathize with me about truth. That’s alright, though, because there is a variant of that word that is so offensive and uncouth that those who disparage me for writing it can serve it to themselves in heaping spoonfuls and, more to the point, I am not interested in those people.
I am interested in people who know empathy.
I am interested in people who are interested in brothers and sisters.
And in mothers and fathers.
And in children, grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s great-grandchildren.
I am interested in, among others, the Christian, the Muslim, the Jew, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Marxist, the Capitalist, the Socialist, and the Athiest.
I am interested in people who love without hesitation and without fear.
I am interested in people who, themselves, are interested in life’s entirety and not just in its dawn or dusk.
I am interested in visibility and the clear spaces which enable it.
In compassion and what it means to build instead of destroy.
In willingness to look at the truth of who we are as a history and work together to amend wrongs.
Mostly, though, I am interested in being visible and how we teach others to be visible. How we ensure that those who are invisible now are lit so they don’t disappear. How to assure others that invisibility is sneaky and waits to add to its ranks, so they must fight its stealth.
I know how to be invisible. I know its gentle pull and its embrace that soothes the soul because it dulls the senses.
I know its dangers and false promises as well.
I know how to disappear, too.