The Jew

When I was growing up, someone always had to be The Jew, and it was always me.

The girl whiteness pulled close, only to pull away. The girl all the white girls wanted to befriend so they could prove their white girl chops and “correct” me. The girl it was socially acceptable to make into their substitute mammy while the kids actually perceived as people of color were casually ostracized. I didn’t understand it then. Didn’t know what I was seeing. I knew proximity to these people signified proximity to safer but I hated them, hated them, and wished they would leave me be.

The series of rich white bffs with much more interesting lives than me, drawn to me because I had something resembling a soul and they wanted to examine it, to dissect it for science, to get close enough to pluck it out of me.

The series of bizarre rejections without mercy. The housemate who refused to talk to me, said me talking was invading her space, but she used to cut up my clothes and dump my laundry on the give away pile. The housemate who decided I had stolen her incense and her milk, in some odd ignorant reversal of history, and who convinced the entire rest of the house I had, and so I called them all vile things and fled ill but triumphant like an angry spirit. The housemates who pushed me out, maybe because I was too hot to handle post abuse revelation ptsd, but maybe because the one thought I was seducing her boyfriend because he wanted to fuck me and somehow this was my fault, and the other because I watched her boyfriend start to rape her while she was passed out drunk and I stopped him.

White girls say they are trustworthy, but they don’t mean, to me.

And everyone else. Sees me as over privileged like an overstuffed turkey. Like their job to take me down a peg, to hurt me, to discipline me. For the betterment of all.

I am learning to hold on to relationships that are not like that. I am learning to let shiny whiteness and its lures exist in the background of my life.

I may hate all patriarchal religions, on principle. But being Jewish exists beyond G-d the Father. And anyway, there is nothing wrong with wanting father, only, we need mother too.

What I am saying is, I was so determined not to be The Jew. The scapegoat. But I didn’t realize that mechanism of antisemitism exists outside of just me. That antisemitism like all forms of oppression looks for an outlet. Is violence looking for a target, not the other way around.

I left him all alone. I let him be hurt. I thought he was happier and better off without me. If he is taking whiteness or assimilation as a route out of pain, it is because I took it first.

I was so high on my own unselfish sacrifice. I let him alone and I did not bother him. I kept my feelings locked up inside my own chest, lock and key both hidden out of sight. And I was bleeding, and he could not see. I did not mean to make him bleed but I thought I thought, he would be so much better off with a girl who is whiter than me.

I am not crazy. Just uninterested in assimilating.

I did not reject him but try telling him that, and he’s right. I pushed him away so he would have a better chance with someone else. But maybe all he saw was one more person scapegoating him.

When I was a child, and a teenager and a woman, I was bullied, means nothing.

I was taught to be ashamed of everything I am.

I see nothing in his Jewish passionate loverboy enthusiasm to be ashamed of. I loved him back. From a distance I thought would be safe for him. But, I loved him.

The thing I wished I had said to him. The thing I spent a whole goddam year trying to say. All those things we learn are too Jewish in us to be loved. All those parts of us we learn to hate.

Those fears we all have but men have most of come/ing on too fast too strong too soon too much in any way at all women might object to, and respond to with violence. And the women who do respond with violence, the women who hate men for the crimes of a few, who look for any excuse to lash out.

I’m not sure I’m not like that still. But I know I did not care whether I was or was not, before I met him.

He ran from being yelled at, maybe. From being blamed. And I was trying to say, you idiot, I love you just the way you are. I just didn’t have the voice to tell you that.

Love is cataclysmic. I thought my love was a bad thing. I winced at my loving him. He thought I was wincing at him not doing a good enough job loving me.

I am a silly girl. I believe I can golf dust him with my touch, can turn us both into an 8-legged spider creature in bed where it is safe so he does not need to be afraid of crying and I do not need to be afraid of wanting him and wanting him and.

Men are taught that sex is this thing that happens between genitals and how good it is for women is about how ‘good’ the guy’s genitals are which is anyway pretty stupid but he taught me that sex is what happens when he looks at me.

I am a little afraid what he sees when he looks at me but mostly, I want to be looked at, and only by him.

Mostly, fuck being ashamed.

Shame is a weapon that is toxic to the user. Shame is the way I feel because I hurt him, not because I want him.

Shame in the face of love seems silly, small. I am not a salamander because I am Jewish and white people hate me. I am myself. I am good enough. And I love him.

Fuck shame. Time to move on.

Writes all the things. Photographs the light. Smiles at odd moments. Reads in the shower. Sings to the trees. Hopes a lot.

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