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FUN A DAY 2019 #14: Isabel

She was the middle child and the self-identified failure of the family, not so much because she’d had to move back into her parents’ house before her 30th birthday (there were far worse things), but more...

She was the middle child and the self-identified failure of the family, not so much because she’d had to move back into her parents’ house before her 30th birthday (there were far worse things), but because she wasn’t entirely sure of how she’d ended up back there, and also couldn’t begin to figure out how to move forward, or if she should. Living with her parents actually wasn’t bad or even annoying, she knew she was lucky that her mami and papi were happy to welcome her back, and had enough space for her to stay with them indefinitely. Being part of and contributing to a household was actually pretty nice, she had a fixed schedule, worried slightly less about money, slept a lot more, and got to see her sisters, tias, and abuelos regularly. After a few months, she’d begun to wonder, is this where I belong, is this what I’m supposed to be doing? Did I end up here because I was actually miserable in Brooklyn, and I’m happier with my family? Except that, for as much as she loved her family, she wasn’t sure how happy she was, or how happy she could be with them.
She’d always had this inexplicable feeling of distance from her parents and her sisters. They’d all always gotten along so well, and their home in Queens, almost Long Island, had always been so happy and calm, and they’d always been so fortunate to have plenty of time together, her parents had taken them to movies and shows and to visit their their relatives in the Bronx and New Jersey, and on road trips up and down the East Coast, and it had all been fun. But she’d always just had that feeling. She felt it at school, too. She’d always been an average student, the type who hadn’t minded the work, but felt bored in a classroom, and would much rather read ahead on her own, and she’d never had any problems with any of the other kids, but it felt like she was different from them.
When her new best friend, a fellow ‘ethnic goth girl’ with deep brown skin and red brown hair who liked alternative rock kissed her during a sleepover toward the end of their freshman year of high school, Isabel didn’t feel like she was ‘different’ anymore. Isabel had kissed her back, and had giggled with her and played with her hair, and she finally felt normal, until the next day when she had to go back home. She’d felt a certain level of confusion ever since that kiss — not about her ’sexual orientation’ or anything silly like that, she liked girls, it was a relief to finally know it — but about life in general. She had this sense that she was supposed to ‘come out,’ especially to her family. She didn’t think they would be upset, but, would it really help? If that was why she felt strange around her family, how would coming out to them fix that? She decided not to. Instead, she finished high school, went to college, and moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant as soon as she could afford it.
She’d made some friends at city college, and then she made friends with their friends quickly, but eventually felt a weird remove from them, too. Most of her roommates and their guests were white, and so were most of the kids at the parties and galleries and shows and other events they went to. Most of them were artists, of some kind, and they all had very strong opinions and political beliefs. Isabel knew the records and books they liked, and she could pass well enough as a very tan brunette white girl, but she couldn’t feign interest in their ideas, or pretend to agree that they were somehow superior to people like her sisters, who were married and had careers and would have kids and were happy living in the suburbs, or almost. And so, after a wrenching but seemingly inevitable fight with her best friend and roommate, Isabel moved back home, and got a job at department store makeup counter.
She was surprised by how well she’d taken to working at the department store. She’d always been chatty and responsive, and happy to recommend a color or a formula to her sister, or her roommate, or to the other girls in the bathroom at a bar. She herself was pretty, in an endearing sort of way, and had brown eyes, long lashes and long, straight black hair that earned her compliments regularly. She was slim, and she liked and felt good in trendy, feminine clothes that showed off her legs. Customers seemed to like her, and so did the other women in the department; she was helpful, always on time, and she knew her products. Isabel knew that it was a silly job, that her old friends had lists of reasons why shilling corporate makeup was ‘problematic,’ but it was nice to finally be suited to something. On the other hand, it made her feel more frustrated: here was yet more proof that she could successfully ‘pass’ as a straight white woman, and in a work environment, no less. Not only should she not feel like an outcast, she should be able to leverage all that privilege into, well, something. But, what? Isabel was forced to admit that she had no earthly idea what she wanted, what she even could want. Despite her family’s assistance and support, she felt utterly adrift, and slightly empty. She’d failed to figure out the bare minimum of what she wanted in life, and had a horrible suspicion that hiding so much of her life from her loved ones might have something to do with this. With a heavy sigh, she finally accepted that she would have to come out to them at some point. ...less

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7 tracks
  • 23min
  • 28
  • One year ago