jewelle gomez wrote a vampire novel called the gilda stories. in it, the characters have to carry with them some land, wherever they are from. and they have to go back sometimes, no matter how far away they are, or how long has passed.
i am 3000 miles away from all my family. more for some, but at least that to all of them. and things keep happening with them that should happen face to face, with touch, with sound – and i get the message by text, by email. stroke, heart attack, misunderstanding, motor cycle accident, homophobia.
today i dreamt that my only living grandmother and i had a talk about my sexuality, a healing conversation. in the dream she was hurt by, and struggling with, the vast space between how she was raised to think about gays and how she thought of me as i grew up – those feelings can’t coexist. i keep not thinking about our broken relationship in my waking life, not feeling it, just staying far from it.
my family is in the south, and the side that hasn’t pushed me away (for my bisexuality, and relationship with my partner) is struggling now for life. the matriarch of my father’s family had a double stroke last week and is on the line between life and death. and today i got news that my uncle was in a motorcycle accident and is in ICU. these things are calling me home, to the south, where i haven’t gone for anything but business for years now.
and as these pieces of family business pile up, i can’t help but ask myself what i am doing here, so far away from everyone related to me by blood. i have always said that truth and justice have to start in the home, and i wonder how much i can truly practice that from such a great distance. i do my best, i communicate, but – im so far, and so in my life here. not that i can even come close to imagining myself living in south carolina – i never have, i moved every two years to everywhere but that state my whole family is from.
these people i know, and love, and look like…are strangers to my daily life, and i to theirs. we know the general updates, the health news, the missives on the family phone tree. this was supposed to be temporary, the basic go-to-cali-and-find-yourself trip. i was blessed with the opportunity of my dream job, and i can’t imagine leaving. so it’s been years now. too long without seeing these faces, my sweet great-aunt’s always smiling face, and now i may not get the chance again. the memory is sweet, but the distance is bitter.
with all these stories, i feel too far from home, and without land. it might be time for a visit, no matter how hard.