We went to Scarborough Maine for the fourth of July. My mom really wanted a family vacation and it’s been years since we’ve gone anywhere together — so she organized everything. We would stay at the Holiday House where my grandmother had taken us when we were young.
After three hours of driving we arrived at the motel. I looked up at the motel we had stayed at when I was young, briefly remembering what it was like the last time I left this place. We had gotten into an ugly fight with my grandmother and she had grabbed my brother. I was 9. I screamed at her and swore. We packed up and left in the middle of the night.
Later she said to my mom, “You know, I had restraint. I could have called your daughter a nigger.”
We hadn’t been back since.
I got out of the car with my mom and brother and we walked into the office to check in. My mom explained we would only stay for three days and we got our room keys.
As we went to leave an older white man from Quebec was walking to come into the office. I opened the door to go out and he sort of stood aside with a shocked face as if I should have smiled warmly and offered to let him walk in first.
“And so it begins,” I thought. But kept walking to our room.
We unloaded our things and headed down the path behind the motel that leads to the ocean. It was beautiful and hot and sunny.
We went in.
A chubby white Quebecois with sunglasses kept giving us the death stare, but we enjoyed ourselves. We swam and Jared buried himself in the sand.
That night we were flipping through channels and discovered a show called “Naked and Afraid.” I heard the name and scoffed, but my mom immediately sat down to watch it.
It was basically survivor but with only two people and they were naked and there was no monetary prize. It was entirely ridiculous. Pompous privileged folks with nothing better to do who wanted to prove their worth somehow, their dominion over mother nature.
We spent much of the next day at the beach, Jared not at all wanting to get out of the water.
I discovered that some friends in Bath, Maine were organizing a protest march for the 4th and asked if my family wanted to go. No.
That night we walked down to the beach to catch some of the fireworks. It was beautiful — the ocean at night.. The chubby Quebecois girl was outside with several of her friends, rapidly speaking french. Jared and I just stood in the ocean enjoying the night air.
When we got back to mom at the deck of the motel she was uncomfortable and told me that when the girl and her friends went back inside the girl stopped and made a terrible face at my mom and then started laughing and speaking French again. Fun times.
I feel bad for my mom. I would have called the girl a silly putain, but I missed it.
The fireworks sound like bombs and all these people in their ferraris are totally disconnected from the real world.
We went inside.
The motel has a kitchenette for all of the guests to share, and I was inside the next day making lunch when I saw the girls mother making food. I said hello. She said hi and went on to speak to the other french Canadians who were around.
They slowly trickled out until it was just she and one other man.
“Can I ask you a question? You’re Canadian right? Well what do you think of this Keystone XL Pipeline they are hoping to build?”
she looked at me. “Well. I am not very involved in that. But I suppose if they are doing it for progress we should accept it and maybe it will be helpful.”
I thanked her and continued making food.
Families are on vacation celebrating Independence Day with Fireworks and tons of beer and I am on my Summer Decolonization Studies trek reading Caucasia and Farewell to Manzanar.
Back at the beach my mom kept saying I reminded her of Bo Derek. I had no idea who this woman was and just kind of nodded. After the second day of her saying it, I looked up the woman online. I found exactly what my mom was thinking of — some white, blond lady from the 70’s in braids, running through the water.
Oof madre, really? I know whenever there’s a brown skinned girl my mom is reminded of me, but now white people too? They just have to wear braids? Maybe a fake fro? Damn. Whatever. I suppose I should take it as a compliment that she thinks I’m beautiful. Or. Something. I love you mom, but getagriplady.
The vacation was strange, I was watching the Trayvon Martin trial for a few minutes and my mom forced me to change the channel, undoubtedly thinking it would somehow scar Jared, or that it was inappropriate for him to see, but later we watched an episode of Family Guy with him.
I accept it, accept it all.
The next day we went to The Pier.
The ocean is so beautiful and powerful and full of life, but this community has just taken every opportunity to capitalize on its natural beauty. From the time we arrived I had a chance to re-discover this place with new eyes and was trying my best to avoid the crowds, but the trip to the Pier was inevitable.
We went and walked on the Boardwalk which was so crowded with soulless people. It was like hell. Like a casino. Like every other amusement park colonized wet dream.
Orange anorexic coked out women walked around in bikini tops and tiny shorts next to much older men who carried their beer bellies with pride. We ate some fried dough and my mom ordered corn dogs before thinking what might be in them. Jared asked if they had pork, and my mom had me go ask the guy who sold it to her. He smiled widely and said hello. I asked if he could tell me if the corn dogs had pork. He grabbed the packet and checked, “yep um, pork, beef, turkey. All of those kind of… meat… products.” I said thank you and before I could turn away he asked, “Why, you can’t eat pork?” I was so tired and nervous in this place, “Oh not me.. for my friend.” I said. He kind of threw up his hands and said, “Oh okay. I understand.”
I did not understand his reaction, and went to tell my family that the corn dog was indeed made of pork.
I said I was going for a walk quickly and walked to the end of the pier to the partition that separated the bars and alcoholic beverages section from all the rest. I stood looking at the people who passed and staring at the mass of people on the beach.
A man came out of the Over 21 section holding a small boy by the hand who was maybe 4 years old, blinking against the sun, tired from the noise. Everything about this place was wrong and I wanted to cry.
I went back to my family, they had finished eating and Jared wanted to go in the ocean.
We went down the steps to the crowd of thousands of people, celebrating their fourth of july weekend. Happy Independence drunk white people.
After two minutes in the water I suggested to my mom that we head back to the motel and she agreed, promising Jared he could go into the water at the motel. For all it’s elitist, snobby people at least there were fewer of them around.
All in all it was a good trip. I had mixed feelings about being at the place, but it was good to see again. And the ocean was incredible. Even though it was only 200 miles away, I felt like I had traveled a lot further to come to this strange place. People were greedy and hungry and trapped. I feel sad because Jared is growing up more connected to this world than mine.
His attitude of “why should we have to clean, we have maids” disheartened me. On the tv we flipped past a black man on screen and he said, “he has big nostrils” at a restaurant we passed a man who had a tubby belly and moved his hips when he walked and jared said, “i can’t stand when you see those like man-women and you don’t know if it’s a girl or a guy. it’s just wrong.”
All of these things made me upset and I tried to address them but he is living in this… this Middle America Religious America Poverty Entitled place and that’s something I can’t undo in a couple days.
My mom worked really hard to make this thing possible and I am glad I got a chance to spend some time with my family, and in the ocean.
After we left the motel yesterday morning we started on the highway to get back to Massachusetts. We got a little lost and stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s.
The two of them went inside and I sat outside, refusing to eat at this place.
I sat under a pine tree and thought of the Peace Tree. I thought of these trees stuck in this fast food hell, stunted from how they are supposed to grow. I felt less alone. I had tobacco and sat under this tree and thought of the walk in April, when we stopped at McDonald’s in DC and how grateful I was for their warmth and shelter and bathroom. I felt stupid for refusing a meal here, like one of these snobby rich vegan idiots who think they are better than everyone else and who can afford to turn down a meal. I felt bad, but I felt grateful. I remembered that at that moment my people were walking in France, marching through the sun with banners and flags. That my people in Egypt were marching. We are all doing the work in whatever way we can, and we have to remember to be grateful for life. There is so much to be grateful for. I got my shit together and went inside for some fries and nuggets before the drive back home.
We stopped in Massachusetts at my mom’s place before she dropped me off back home and it was perfect timing. My brother drove up and I got a chance to see his beautiful baby girl for a few minutes.
I’m back home.
Darker. Content. Still Poor.