Tamara Jorell

Writing life and the neighborhood

Writing life and the neighborhood

 

Why me?

Denise’s life was a beautiful tapestry. But she lived on the other side of the work of art in the tangled mess of threads, and that’s the side of her life we saw too: the one with the senseless knots. When she couldn’t stomach couch-hopping anymore, she made a change. But now homeless, with four kids by as many men, her chance of buying groceries was almost as distant as her hope for an education.

“If my circumstances had been the same as hers, I could be in her spot,” I told my girls while they played with Denise’s babies. “And so could you.”

But when our family was between places, we had my parents’ home for refuge, and through no merit of our own, we slept in safety, our stomachs full.

Why? Why me?

A few nights ago, I stumbled onto an online quiz. Its title, “How privileged are you?” (or something similar), coaxed me to play. I clicked through the wide array of questions and scored a 43 out of 100. No, I hadn’t been handed everything in life, and yes, I had weathered some adversity. But 43 was something—a bigger number than for some. I frowned. I didn’t need a test to point out the obvious: My life was sheathed in goodness—and it always had been. I hadn’t somehow attracted the nice life through positive actions, though, because I hadn’t always made the right choices.

So, why me?

The internet buzzed with personal pronouncements of private pain in the #MeToo movement. As I scrolled through social media forums, victims of sexual harassment and assault—my friends—stated their realities in those two simple words. No details needed. And some kept silent, even though I knew their stories of pain. The masses of the walking wounded stunned me, and even more so, because I couldn’t claim a place in their circle.

Why me?

The question grew louder, strangling my thoughts. Nothing was fair about the protection and provision I enjoyed while others struggled. So, in the quiet hours of the early morning, I took my wrestling match to the living room rug and again asked the question: Why me?

Words cut through the silence, both comforting and jolting me:

From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.

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*Miss an installment of the blog? Or want to catch the story from the beginning? Visit http://www.tamarajorell.com/blog-entries-by-date

*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.

© 2014 Tamara Jorell. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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