Subject: Putting Things on the Table
Date: Friday 7/28/06 5:14:00 PM
Friends Locked for Obvious Reasons. The past few days have been…uh…fun…yes…fun, that’s the word…
We need to talk, but I think that since talking is
what’s now put this rift – which may be irreparable –
between us, it might be more efficacious to write to
each other and say what we both know has been needed
to be said to each other, in a respectful manner, for
Let’s start with what lead up to the fight; and this
isn’t unbiased, it’s my perspective, how I saw things
on my end so you’ll have to make allowances for that.
On the phone you told me to fax something, as I was
trying to explain to you why that wasn’t possible –
the fact that I don’t have a landline in my apartment,
which isn’t a complaint, I think anyone other than a
business should only operate on cellular – and the
fact that I have mono, am tired, and that it was
pouring outside so I would have to walk ten minutes to
south campus in a thunderstorm, wait an hour for a bus
at 4:30PM and sometime, at 5:30 when I got to campus,
I’d then have to attempt to find a place on campus
where I could send a fax.
However, you wouldn’t let me get a word in edge wise.
You then said “I’M DEALING WITH THIS IN 94 DEGREE
WEATHER!” the only reason I had them call you is
because I wanted them to tell you – my father – what
was going on because I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. Just the
same way you ask me questions about Pharmacy I ask you
questions about things I don’t know; and when I
realized that you were tense and upset about something
and I wasn’t sure what and I was trying to ask you to
deal with this later you exploded.
What you said to me HURT ME; because I thought that at
our ages we were past that and we had a mutual respect
for each other, apparently that’s not so. What you
said cut me…something that very few people have been
able to do.
I know that your work is stressful, but my life is
stressful too. Since I’ve gotten to college I’ve had
at least one friend die a year, sometimes one die a
semester. I’ve held my friends as they’ve died of HIV
and AIDS and I’ve had my friends be beaten by the
police and I’ve had people shot in front of my car and
the thing is, I don’t get to ignore these things…I
can’t run away and I can’t fire these people. I’m not
a CEO, I’m a Gay Jewish Man who’s forced to stand up
to the Klan when they send me letters to my attention
to let me know that they’re going to demonstrate
because if I don’t defend myself, who will defend me?
If I am not for myself, than who is for me? If I don’t
stand up now, when? I know that you think I do too
much activism, please realize that I don’t have a
choice…the kids who put hits on my head in high
school are nothing to the challenges that I face right
now – and this isn’t me being melodramatic – just
illustrating that I have stress too.
These challenges are my own and like an adult I bear
the burden that’s been placed on my shoulders and I
try to keep things in perspective because I know that
there are other thing’s going on. Because I have
friends in Beirut and in Palestine and in Israel and I
feel for each one. So I’m sorry you’re having a
stressful day, but when you put it in perspective, I
think others have more of a right to complain about
stress than WE do.
We all have stress, but it’s how we handle it that
shows our valor.
I’d like for it to be okay to pretend that we had a
perfect relationship growing up…but we both know we
didn’t. I’d like to think that I have happy memories
but right now, after hearing the tone of voice that
you used the other day, one I haven’t heard you use
for a long, long time…the one you used when you came
home, slammed the garage door and yelled at my brother
and myself for not doing something that we ‘were
supposed to do’ but you never told us to do because we
“should just know.”
When did you forget what it was like to be a
kid…more accurately, when did you forget what YOU
were like as a kid?
My memories growing up aren’t of the BBQ’s but are of
you not being able to do things for yourself and using
your children as your personal staff instead of
treating us like family members. I can recall vividly
the fights of you not understanding that we had other
things going on and couldn’t drop what we were doing
to be your servants at whim; knowing full well that
you were capable of doing at least half of what you
requested us to do for you, on your own. My memories
are of you having no respect for anyone’s time or
things but your own.
I’m sorry if you’re angry that kids cost money, but
you produced us, we are of your flesh and your blood
so yes, the family gets to support us until we’re able
to take the reins and support ourselves and you don’t
SEE how lucky you are to have David, Sam and Myself as
your children. Three kids who haven’t succumbed to the
pitfalls of drugs or alcohol abuse, three kids who
aren’t in trouble with the law, three kids who are
smart and handsome and good people.
Does it BOTHER you that this is my perception of you?
Does it BOTHER you that your children breathe a sigh
of relief when you leave the house, because the
tension leaves? It should.
I know you may have said what you said because you had
low blood sugar. But guess what, that’s a reason, not
an excuse. I don’t blame things on my Tourettes or my
OCD or my ADHD because part of being a responsible
adult is taking responsibility and owning up to what
we say. And saying “I’m sorry” not “If I did this I’m
sorry” and there’s a difference between the two. Part
of being an adult is saying “I made a mistake.” Part
of being an adult is being responsible and that means
more than just going to meetings on time. It means if
you know that you get vile when you have low blood
sugar you keep a tube of glucose tablets with you.
And if you perceived me saying I don’t have a land
line as a complaint (which it wasn’t) and thought that
I was being spoiled – something we’ll address in a
second – guess what, I’m the 21 year old, you’re not.
I fuck up, I understand that. I fuck up often. I make
mistakes daily – and I try to learn from them, but no
matter what from now until I’m old and grey I’m GOING
to make mistakes…thank GOD, I can’t imagine the
burden of what it must be like to always be right and
never have the room to screw up, I like screwing
up…I learn things from it.
Every time we go on vacation you tell us how much each
of us cost you and you don’t even realize you’re DOING
IT (and not realizing doesn’t make it okay) and if we
don’t go with you, you also get angry…so like
always, the deck is stacked against us. We can’t win.
My entire childhood never being able to win a game
where no one but you got to see the rules and the
rules always changed. Guess what, I’m not playing
anymore and I’m smacking those rose colored glasses of
how you were a perfect child off your face and I’m
calling you out on your bullshit.
Marvin, the rift that you put between us is big and I
don’t think you realize just how big it is. You can
call me many things, but don’t ever call me spoiled.
Every family member contributes what they can to their
abilities. From each what they can give, to each
according to their needs. Dave helps out with what
he’s good at. I help out with medical and legal issues
(you’ll recall I was the one with you at Jacobi), Sam
does what he can, but he gets a lot of leeway, or at
least he SHOULD because he’s a kid and should get to
play, not just for himself, but because there’s kids
around the world loosing limbs right now and he gets
to play for them because they can’t and Mom manages
the house, handles all the paperwork, the bills.
Everyone contributes…and yes you contribute money
but you don’t see yourself as WE…you see yourself as
I. And the money as YOURS…it’s not YOURS it’s what
you CONTRIBUTE TO THIS FAMILY.
But this is how it always is, it’s “your office” and
“your living room” and “your kitchen” and “we take up
too much space” – it’s not yours, it’s OUR living room
and if you can’t see why this difference is so
important, you don’t get what it means to be FAMILY.
You say mean and hurtful things; I will never forget
when you grabbed my stomach last year at the movie
theatre and called me fat, and how you made fun of my
weight growing up – you’re lucky I didn’t develop an
eating disorder – and I can still remember when Mom
called me crying – YOU MADE MY MOTHER CRY WITH YOUR
WORDS. YOUR WORD ARE POWERFUL BECAUSE PEOPLE LOVE YOU.
As a child if I got angry because you were out of
line, offensive, horrible, mean it wasn’t because you
were any of those things – no, because you can never
admit you’re wrong or what you said wasn’t okay – It’s
because I ‘need my medication upped’ – YOU FUCKING
TRIED TO DRUG ME BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T WANT TO DEAL WITH
YOUR SHIT AND THAT ISN’T OKAY. You didn’t ever want me
to be mad, only butterflies and roses here…you
didn’t think it was okay for me to express the gambit
of human emotion and that isn’t okay…because it says
a lot about you.
I’ve dumped boyfriends for less…I’ve kicked people
out of my life for less and I’m not doing that to you
because you’re family but you’re walking a fine line
and pretty soon you’re going to have to make some
choices and what those choices are, are up to you, and
what decision you make, is also up to you. I’m hurt,
and I’m hurt bad and I’m angry and I’ve read and
re-read this letter to make sure it was okay to
send… because if you’re going to be mad at me, I’d
rather that be because I stood up like a man and laid
everything out on the table like guys are supposed to
do instead of whatever transgression you perceived me
You’ve never been called to account for your actions
to other people (and an ‘I’m kidding’ or a ‘sorry’
doesn’t cure everything) and I can’t send you to your
room but I’m calling on your bullshit in the only way
Come up here and get the car, I can’t even look at it
without wanting to vomit and having my chest fill with
heat and anger. Come up here, fly up, and drive it
down – I never want to see it again, and then give me
back my money – every dime I paid you for it. I’ve
never been more serious in my life, I won’t look at
it, touch it or drive it. It’s yours again.
I’m mailing you my cell phone, you’ve told me how much
that cost you constantly too so clearly it’s a burden
you shouldn’t have to bear. Take it. I don’t want it.
You’re not getting my new number, if you want to talk
to me, you’ll have to write it down, this will help
both of us because when you write I’ll know that what
you’re writing is what you mean to say instead of
having you say hurtful things that you may say in the
heat of the moment, if you say something hurtful I’ll
know you meant it.
And I’m saying this because it needs to be said; I’m
21 and I have a lot to be proud of, I’ve had some
really rocking achievements but the truth is you don’t
know anything about me – at all. You don’t know who I
am or what I stand for or what I like or what I listen
to or what I study and I don’t expect to change
people, because people will only change if they want
to but I’m putting everything down on paper so you
know where you stand.
The only way you can be in my life now is if you’re
there to support me (and we’re not talking
financially) just be there on the sidelines. I don’t
want to hear “well you should study pharmacy” or “you
should do this” I know what I need to do for me.
Another thing you’ll need to deal with: I’m graduating
in short order and I’m going to be traveling
internationally to countries that you’re not going to
want me to travel to but I’m doing it with or without
your support. I’m doing it with or without your
okay…because even though (and you don’t realize just
how much you’ve done this) you constantly throw
hurdles in my way I’m in a department where my
professors know my name and where they want me to
succeed so I have a support network of people saying I
can do it and I can make it who are rooting me on – so
either jump on the bandwagon or jump off but I won’t
let you hang on the side.
I’m done being criticized, and I’m done being lectured
to and I’m doing being verbally abused. I’ll make it
with or without you; it’s your choice if you want to
be a part of that or not. But the only way I’ll let
you be a part of that, is if you’re going to be a
positive influence. And if you read this letter and go
“how dare he” and get even angrier than you’ve missed
the entire point but you’re an adult so I’m not going
to hold your hand through the process.
I love you, whether you know that or not.