TravelBlogue:  An All-I'mErican Journey









Thursday, April 13, 2000
Moving on

I guess I crossed the line with my last entry. Don't get me wrong, I love the various members of my family, I just can't understand why such awful things were done to me and yet no one will acknowledge them. Then they act surprised that I don't jump at throwing my life away on the first jerk that comes by or why I don't think they're all wonderful and perfect. I know no one's perfect, but I'm sick to death of people who sat by and did nothing telling me I'm a liar about things that happened. I knew when I was 6 it was wrong, why didn't anyone else? If someone tries to tell me once more that it didn't happen or that it was my fault, I'll give up talking to them ever again.

I guess journeys are supposed to be cathartic. So here I go...

I'm leaving Indianapolis tonight, probably heading south. I have a plan in mind, but I really leave it up to myself when I get to the station. What if something else sounds more fun or interesting? Then I'll do that instead, rather than stick to some ironclad plan. I might go east or west instead.


Have spent a lot of time with my favorite cousin, P. Growing up, his brothers J and R always felt excluded, because they were "the young kids." It's funny to realize now that R, the youngest who got married Saturday, is just 4 years younger than I am. The gap seemed really big when we were 6 and 10. P has an 11year old and a 11 month old now. Amazing. I can't imagine having any kids at all, I still feel like one myself in some ways, so it's weird to see him with his girls. The 11 year old is the sweetest kid you ever met and the 11 month old is just starting to walk and babble like crazy. She's so cute, I can hardly bear it. I love babies, they're amazing. She's really good-natured and in three days I only heard her cry twice, when she woke up for the day and when she woke up from a nap. You really never know what you're going to get -- every baby has a unique temperment.

Haven't really seen the rest of my mom's side of the family since the wedding. It's a whole weird thing that I can't get into here. My father's side assumes the other side isn't interested in me in particular because I'm half black. The truth of the matter is that they don't see each other except when I'm here. One side of the family doesn't spend much time together, the other is always together. Each has a very different style and that's just the way it is, with or without my presence.


I've really got to leave, I never intended to stay this long. Despite the prevailing family issues, it's the easiest thing in the world to lay around in a big bed eating your grandma's cooking all week. The fact is, I've decided to take it nice and slow everywhere I go and to go to fewer places as a result. I want to really savor it. This is my fourth week of unemployment and it's been a blast. Even if I had to go back to California today (ah, but please let it be after I hit New Orleans next week!), it's been a real, wonderful break. For ten years, I've worked, gone to school, worked two jobs or some combination thereof -- it's wonderful to just sit back and watch the world go by. link
posted by Erica Jackson 4/13/2000 3:01:01 PM


Monday, April 10, 2000

Unhappy Anniversary

I found myself writing this today, in response to academic arguments about abortion and gun control:

Tomorrow/today is the first anniversary of my dad's death and so I'm vacillating between memories of the nice, smart, fun guy and the vicious sadist. Sometimes I see some of the awful things that he did play across my mind like a bad movie and forget they actually happened to me. I may not be living up to my potential, but frankly I'm amazed everyday that I'm not torturing small animals or shooting heroin.

Being around my family this weekend and seeing the affects of abuse on all of us, on both sides (which is the most significant thing I see among us, rather than black and white -- as certain relatives would paint it), makes me painfully aware of what an important thing it is to take good care of children. I cringe when relatives ask when I'll be getting married and having babies. I just can't imagine how anyone would think that's a good idea, considering the severity of the abuse from which I'm trying to recover. No, I don't wallow in it all the time, but at certain times it hits me really hard. For many reasons, this week is one of those times.

I guess I've got a reputation for being anti-man and anti-children because there hasn't been so much of a hint that I have an interest in either as far as the family knows. It's not that...I have secretly always dreamed of having children, but I have no intention of doing so until I get to a point where I feel relatively certain I will break the cycle of abuse.

It's weird for me that guns have been such a heated topic recently, weirder still when people quote academentia (cf. Mary Daly) to justify their existence. I think it was Einstein who differentiated between our species having the intelligence to create weapons of mass destruction and yet not the wisdom to know not to use them.

One of my strongest memories is of my father giving me a gun to commit suicide upon being told (for once, mistakenly) by my high school guidance counselor that I was suicidally depressed. I very nearly did as he apparently wished. I pictured my brains splattering all over my parents and the living room and imagined my own relief once it was all over. No, guns aren't the problem -- he certainly had enough body parts to pummel me with and he mostly did stick to those and otherwise harmless household items (to this day, I cringe at the sound of a belt whipping its way out of loops and never wear one myself). Guns just make it quick and easy -- I find it truly alarming that you can kill or maim someone with very little effort or time to consider your actions.

Guns, aren't the solution, either. I don't think the handguns, rifles, shotguns or even the AK-47 my father stockpiled would help a bit against governmental tyranny, as those who misread the Second Amendment would justify it. Nor were they of any use when the house was broken into (they were all locked in the safe in the garage at the time), so there goes another common pro-gun arguement. Months later, I was on the phone urging my mother to check the house and she insisted all the guns were put away, when my then-3-year-old brother walked into the room with a loaded gun. But hey, as long as no one violated my father's Second Amendment rights, that's what's important, right?

Guns are only as good as the person on the other end and I have never heard of a reasonable way (besides complete prohibition) to keep them out of the hands of criminals, children or whack-jobs. My father, for example, passed numerous background checks in order to receive a high-level government clearance for his job and a Federal Firearms License (to buy and sell guns wholesale) for his home-based business as a gun dealer. This filtering is more strenuous than I've ever heard proposed by any anti-gun lobby and yet the system clearly failed in this case.

I'll be visiting my father's grave for the first time in a few hours. Between that and spending yesterday with a family member who idealized and idolized him and who is mirroring many of his awful traits, I'm in a really weird place. I find it terribly bizarre that there is no license, training or background check required for parenthood. I don't understand how people stumble into it, so unthinking.

I guess what no one really wants to hear me say is that his death was a relief in many ways. I really hated wondering when and if he would do more damage than causing uncontrollable fear responses, nervousness, headaches and memory failure in me. Until I left my parents' house, I felt I had no choice, but today I choose not to be anyone's victim. I've not once fallen into an abusive relationship, I'd much rather be alone (I kindly escort anyone who tries either to the door or my boot, whichever comes first). I've also successfully defended myself against attacks by men on the street. If there's one thing I learned from my childhood, it's that no one will protect me, but me. So I do.

People ask me why I'm taking this trip, just as they asked why I moved to San Francisco or New York. "It's so dangerous," they say. That seems surreal to me, particularly when many of those asking are the very people who failed again and again to protect me in my own "home." The only good thing I can say about my life until age 21 is that I am confident the most dangerous, frightening experiences of my life are behind me. I have survived so much, I just can't imagine letting anything stop me now. link
posted by Erica Jackson 4/10/2000 4:13:11 AM


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