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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Observations Of A Census Worker (Is this really America?) Gloom and Doom; Read with Caution

Probably the biggest thing to hit me, to actually make me reel from its impact, more so than vicious dogs, or gun-toting rednecks, or even the squalid conditions of how in America there are still people who live like they are in a Third World Country, was the observation of all the broken families.

And yet, it was not something that immediately seized me, as though, I had never realized that this was the case with common America. As though, I was oblivious. At first, it seemed quite normal. I would go from house to house. And it wasn't until I was assigned an entire apartment complex that I noticed that nearly every home had experienced some great alteration that I am sure when the vows were exchanged or babies were planned or unplanned, at least in the sweet execution of making these babies, that most of these people, had really thought that the life that they knew, the people that they surrounded themselves with, the oaths sworn, and the duties took, that these would all be a permanent fixture.

A slight insight may be able to observe that, perhaps, people living in a house, statistically speaking, are more likely to stay together than people living in an apartment complex. Maybe there is a tie between the permanence in middle to upper income households compared to lower income households. (Maybe its all financial; its easier to walk out of a lease agreement than a house payment.) I am sure that there are a number of studies on it. But still, the fact is in plain view that none have been exempt. It is just more glaringly obvious in closer quarters. The irony lies in the fact that perhaps, in the scenes where man must live in close proxity to other men. And in a living circumstance of uniformity. He or She rebels against this uniformity. And revolts him or herself from the obligation that they have for the dependence or service of others. This is neither cause nor effect; just a weird observation on my part.

Of course, I never ask such questions about one's family life. But it becomes apparent when the children's last names that one writes down are all very different. As though, the mother or father wanted to be original and name them with differing last names as well as differing first names. It is to be expected if the housing unit has 3 kids, one of them, I would be willing to bet my large cup of Mountain Dew, (and if only you knew how important this cup of Mountain Dew was out in this summer heat) that one of these kids was from an altogether different parent. Now, I do not wish to point fingers at anyone as though I am speaking from some sort of moral tower. There is enough brokeness already. And I am not at all writing this out of sheer guilt inducement or moral disgust. I mean, I myself, come from a broken family. As well, as almost half of the people reading this. But, it finally struck me, from out of the textbook, statisical connotation that I had already known, now, in a entirely experiential way, how the shrapnels of a broken family have not only become common, but have become expected. In other words, I want to ask, "My God, what the hell happened?"

Modern man's alienation is complete. A man or a woman must express himself or herself, and he does this by affording himself the illusion that he can walk in and out of any situation that he so chooses. But he is a fool, for he deep down senses that he cannot do so, that he cannot have this ultimate freedom, in our hyper-modernized rut of a mechanical wheel, we call the rest of the world. So he is squashed and perplexed, yet surprisingly unaware at his own squashedness and perplexity, so much so that he pushes to sleep the thought that this may be the case, and assures himself that he is the opposite, "I have freedom to choose."
So he bows out his chest where he knows that he should be prostrating, and he demands his freedom in what is left in the wake of modernity, the last remaining vestige that man belongs somewhere....the family.

Love has since become a byword pronounced between the commercial breaks for Pop Tarts and Weight Loss. Marriage has become, at best a jest, a farce wherein all the actors and actresses upstage one another with lines that they cannot live out. Yet, the bride will still have her pomp and her white wedding day as though it is some sort of pageant where she will be cherished and adored...at least for that year's parade.
And the groom shall walk proud and tall, like a rooster, some strange concoction of hero and nameless villian....sacrificing all only for the way that this woman makes, he, himself, feel.
The guests will appear, and each giving a toast for this season's charade. The wine glasses will clink and shatter. And the fragments will scatter everywhere, among the birdseed, and the spilled water that had, in this case, never really turned into wine. If lucky, the wedding flowers may actually wilt before the marriage has.

Sorry for the despondency and despair, but this seemed to be the case, whenever I would knock on a door at this apartment complex, and almost every other time it was a single mother with at least one child, maybe a few more from previous marriages. There is this very subtle phantom that hangs in the air, after such interactions. As though, there was this inner anguish that has been lived through, though this is all unaware and unacknowledged. Now, it was on to new things, new interests, new possibilities, anything to squelch the dismal anguish that presents itself after such experiences. But these women are so strong, seemed to have this matter-of-factness about them. Much stronger than me. And had I experienced the emotional turmoil that they've gone through I would probably ball up into a sobbing mess and hope to die.

Why, just yesterday. I was invited into the air conditioning and out of the heat, by what first appeared to be a woman still quite young. I could sense her invitation was something other than concern for the Census Man. Immediately, upon entering, I see a young man, thinking it to be her husband. And even before I can utter a salutation, she makes sure that I am aware that this was just her son. And the baby that he was holding was his son. So, I had 3 generations represented in this household. But no where was there a trace of the other participants to this budding procreation. This lady, this grandmother, actually, was nice. Too nice. And she had successfully convinced me, even more so, her own self, of her youthfulness and her sexuality. (Perhaps convincing herself of these is the most important thing). I recall her swaying, strutting walk, when later she was in front of me, for she knew that she was in front of me, walking to her car. Who has time for brooding over the shattered past? When there are still more babies to be born, or at least the sheer pleasure of making them, and you still have good form and movement to carry out this fruitful engendering? And when the new offspring is popped out, and your genes are passed on, and by one more addition to our species we are safeguarded its very survival, we can stand ameliorated in our deepening appetites and not hear the chaotic break of our own lives, and the ones we deem that we love. Perhaps sex is really the antidote we use over and over again to ward off thoughts of death and the meaninglessness of life?

I am not a preacher of reform. I am only a person with a habit of observation and a jolting drive to express what I feel and see. So there is no direct point to these thoughts. Other than to perhaps, awaken myself to what is. And, maybe if not too dangerous with any ego, awaken to what could be.

But if I had the artistic ability, the powers of a Giotto, or a Michelangelo, or some such Renaissaince master painter of the Holy Family. I would paint a piece of a Modernized version of the Birth of Christ. But it would be synonymous with the current times and trends, instead of the stable being the setting it would be this big opulent house with buzzing, whirring electronic devices. Joseph would be missing. Whether that is due to his utter abandonment of Mother Mary and the Christ Child, or whether its due to his long hours at the office to pay for this opulent house with all the electronic devices, is up to the viewer to decide. Either way Father Joseph isn't there. Mother Mary is a distracted mess, but consoling herself via all the other hot carpenter types she's chatting with on eHarmony. And little baby Jesus is laying snugly in front of a television. The wise men are mere wives' tales, so they are no where to be found. And instead of the barnyard assembly of chicken, goat, and ass, we have a medley of media celebrities and magazine superstars surrounding the birth of Christ. Forget Herod's sword and the might of Rome, what dark and dismal times is this Christ Child born to bring peace and meaning into?


Blogger trapperhoney said...

it is sooo sad and it IS epidemic. i've been working with children's ministry for the past twenty years and it is sad to see five kids from one household, all with different names and none of them know their fathers. everything in our world is disposible, and people are hooked up for only as long as the relationship serves them.

5:20 AM  

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