The occasion was a birthday gathering for a dear friend - she wanted the night to be full of her closest and most beloved, so I let her handle the inviting and Jimi and I took care of the rest. I made a chicken shawarma that was out of this world (thanks NYT!), and Jimi spent all day smoking a pork shoulder. The food was yummy. And somehow, we've ended up with way more alcohol than we began the night with - good or bad, that will be determined. The guest of honor cried happy tears and rapped to Biggie Smalls; I call that a fucking win.
I loved it so much I've decided I'm going to make it a weekly thing. Starting next week, I'm going to invite all of my friends to my house each Monday night - open house style - come and go as you please, bring something or have whatever we're having - bring the kids and let's throw them upstairs or in the back yard to play while the grownups talk and drink and whatever...fill our buckets, our cups, our mental health meters. It's so fucking hard these days to just exist. Last night, the conversations I had, remind me that IT'S NOT JUST ME. We are all fighting the same fight, struggling in the same ways. Well, we're not, but we are. You know? You know what I mean. And being with people who tell us it's okay, that we're not alone, that we have people in the world who love us and support us even when shit gets hard, well, that's super important. And despite the fact that we're living in a technologically advanced age of social media and oversaturation connection with every detail of each others lives at our fingertips - I think a lot of us are feeling really lonely and isolated. Talking to my friends in person, seeing them in person, hugging their necks in person - it makes ME feel better. and I'm guessing IT'S NOT JUST ME.
The girls stayed at Dot's last night, and since my house is "company clean" today, I decided I had time to take the girls somewhere fun after I picked them up. We got bathing suits on and headed up to Iroquois Park - we go there a lot, but it's a special treat for them to get to play in the spray pad water thingy. When we pulled up, I noticed two young black men getting out of a car two spots from us, and a family of white people getting out of a car across the parking lot. The older man of the white family met the older of the black men halfway between their cars in the middle of the lot and shook hands - somehow I gathered that the white family was looking to buy the car the black men were driving. I got the girls out of their car seats and set them free - as I was walking to catch up with them, I noticed the family walking around the car, as if inspecting it. I peripherally noticed when it drove off, as if someone was taking it for a test drive. I thought one of the black men stayed behind. I thought, "Yeah, that makes sense, if you're meeting someone in a park to buy a car, take a second with you, and leave someone behind to assure everyone everything is legit."
I walked around the playground as the girls played in the water - I was trying to get steps in. I was hung over and not hydrated enough to try to do any real cardio today, but I could get some steps in walking circles around my kids, like the helicopter mom that I am.
I don't know how long it had been since we showed up since someone drove off with the car for a test drive, but on one trip around the playground, I saw a woman coming up the sidewalk in front of the park, and she seemed to be yelling, and crying...I was confused, was I hearing what I thought I was hearing? My girls were squealing and yelling - I couldn't be sure, but it sure looked like this woman was crying and screaming...and then her people, the family, were running toward her, and I'd walked closer and could hear her saying "...told me to go around the circle one more time and that noise would stop...put a gun to my head....took my purse..." oh no oh no oh no...
She'd been robbed, at gunpoint, by the two black men who'd posed as people selling a car.
I fucking hate people.
The older white man, the one I'd assumed was the father, he looked to be in shock, stunned. The mother-lady, she was calling 911. The woman who'd been robbed, she looked to be in her 30s somewhere, she just stood there, sobbing, trying to hug herself and gasp out the story. No one hugged her. No one was hugging her. That still really bothers me. I just wanted to go and hug her, but G was suddenly by my side, asking why that woman was crying, asking what was wrong, and I led her away trying to explain in 5 year old terms what had happened and that everything is fine and she shouldn't be scared even though I was shaking with adrenaline and rage and fear and the urge to scoop my babies up and run even though the rational part of my brain said "they've gotten what they were after, the police will be here in a moment, they're not coming back, the girls are safe." The feeling of violation, the audacity, was so strong, despite that this was a situation that didn't happen to me, that didn't harm mine. With the family, there was a 13ish year old girl, and a 9ish year old boy - the girl was so sad and scared - her pale face was red from crying. The boy seemed to be in shock. Ugh.
I'm so angry. That poor woman, who probably just needed a good reliable cheap car to get her to work, she's been traumatized for life. Her family has been traumatized. Those kids... And now they all have a story to help endorse and perpetuate the tale of evil black men in our society.
And those black men. What were they thinking in those moments when they first met that family? I'm so glad she brought her family with her. What situation made them so desperate for a little cash that this was the best plan they had? The forethought and premeditation and trickery that went into it - it makes me sick. What made them so desperate? Part of me hopes they have some dire circumstance that lead to this, because alternately... well, I like to try to not think about the part of the world where people do this sort of shit just because.
I started wrangling the girls to go home shortly after the first police car showed up. I generally don't like to hang where there are police anyhow, but I was so skeeved out, so uncomfortable, so uneasy, I just wanted to get my kids home to where I knew we were all safe.
This all happened hours ago. I'm still struggling with it mentally a bit. It's a fucked up thing to witness, the immediate aftermath of a trauma like that. I'm so sad for that woman, that family. I'm so sad for those men, and angry with them too. Goddammit. And I'm angry with our society, with our reality, that makes it easier for people to make money doing horrible things than to make money doing noble things.
I discovered this morning that blogger I'd loved forever, who stopped blogging a while ago, stopped blogging basically because her life went to shit. All of the things in her world that looked really awesome from the outside were crap on the inside and exploded in a bad way. It made me really sad for her. I think a lot of the time people only ever want to tell the good part of the story, the happy ending, the silver lining. I keep finding, over and over again, that the best part of the story is the part that makes you cringe when you tell it, the part that you think makes you look the worst, the part that hurts the most. Those words, they're the ones that heal, the ones that resonate, because they're the ones spoken with the most truth.