There's a learning curve on vacation!
Hanging out with teenagers has kept me in a state of flux, from soft and warm love to existential angst. My grandson took my by the hand and wanted me to listen to some rap songs by Kendrick Lamar who I had never heard of. He said he had cried this song was so powerful for him the first time he listened and so of course I am moved already before I even hear the song. But hearing the song is one thing and understanding it is another. I find it hard to follow rap music, the words are slung together too fast, there are references I don’t get, and the poetry of it is pretty much lost on me. There is a refrain, “I choose me. I’m sorry” which is repeated and I do understand that and say, sometimes you have to choose yourself and my grandson have a moment of empathy.
Later in the day I google Lamar and discover that the lyrics of his songs are translated online out of rap ese. References to other rappers and personal and worldly issues and explained at great length reminding me of my first encounter with T S Eliot’s “Wasteland” which was so difficult to follow that the poetry was lost for me. And then I notice that Lamar has gotten the Pulitzer Prize for Literature recently. The world is passing me by and I don’t know enough to know it. Except now I do.
Then we are going out to dinner and are waiting to be seated when a mid-western type family group enters and among them is a young person of indeterminate sex dressed outrageously, making me think of an 80’s pimp, in bright pink and rainbow colors, shoes have soles four inches high in matching pink, there is glitter and sparkle and I confess to staring in wonder that anyone would want to stand out quite that obviously and feeling some compassion for her/him.
When we have finished our meal, and are leaving my granddaughter, who is bursting out of her short shorts to such an extent that I really had hoped she would change before we went out, stops when we pass the table with the brightly dressed young person and says, “I really like your outfit”. My head spins first one way and then another and I feel I have become my 90 year old Aunt Helen who was horrified by what the sixties was doing to my generation.
Later, I ask my granddaughter what her motivation for the compliment was and she said, “I like to support someone who is trying alternative ways of being”. I think about asking her if the young person was a girl or boy, but know what the answer would be, “What difference does it make?” and since I am at the beach in Florida, I feel I am standing on the shore looking out at the vast ocean knowing there is a land across the sea where I will never live to live. There the basic distinction of male/female is no longer rigid and fixed but fluid and transformable.
I am humbled. At the same time the vastness surrounds me and I am wide open knowing that underneath the pulse of love-angst love-angst, “we all are one.” or as Kendrick Lamar puts it on his website--
“I am all of us.”