“…but Esau have I hated….”
When I was a young one, I read the book bearing the above referenced title, taken from a Bible verse, referencing the strife between twin brothers, Jacob and Esau. In the Bible, Jacob had a much more kindly disposition toward spirituality and duty, gaining him God’s favor. In the book, due to sickliness and the “it factor,” Caroline was favored above her twin Louise.
Though not a twin, I was raised very closely with my sister Artemis, only two years younger than I. My mother went through great pains to make us “equal.” We shopped at the same time, often wore the same clothing until I was 7, and only attended the parties of those who invited both of us. Artemis was willing obedience, manicures, soft words and crossed ankles. I was raucous rebellion, bloody nail beds from being bitten to the quick, bellows and would often come home with my mother’s hand stitched lace from my dresses in my back pack. Outsiders never hesitated to compare her sweetness to my piss and vinegar.
My parents, of course, did not verbalize such a preference. Admittedly, there were several ways in which my mother doted on me as the oldest, and her right arm. But my mother died when I was 17, leaving me with my father, who was always embarrassed by my…being. A minister raised by and amongst Seventh Ward ladies, I don’t think he knew what to do with his first daughter being an unapologetic belch enthusiast who had been a fluent cusser since age seven. Artemis, though, was his type of people. She was sweet, compliant, and even as a young child, quite active in church. I would be remiss if I didn’t take time to say that she is, quite frankly, an awesome chick. I don’t begrudge her being who she is, because who she is happens to be amazing. Most times, if she found herself in large amounts of trouble, it was due to not snitching on me about my latest escapade. He held out the perpetual hope that I would somehow get with the program and “come around”; by that I mean, spontaneously develop a new personality.
And, I didn’t. I’m not a good church girl. I never mastered the act of being a genteel lady. I still laugh when I belch and occasionally curse like a sailor. Where he was able to walk Artemis down the aisle as a virgin bride, I cheated him in a judge’s chamber ceremony with my four month old son on my hip. And so with him, the burden of being me is casual disregard and constant worry. Because at the end of it all, my father loves me. I know that he wants the best for me. But he will never forgive me for being me, because to him, being me reflects some failing on his part. For a long time, in deference to him, I tried to fake it at least for a little while. Living away has removed much of that burden.
But life is for the living, and my life is for me to live. This is not to say that I should not accept counsel and advice. But at the end of the day, I can only employ these things to my personality and temperament. I will never know how to speak in a whisper. I may never master heels and I WILL never wear classic Jackie O suits just because. He’s got a lady, and he’s got a maverick. One day, I hope he appreciates that. Until then, well, he’ll just have to grin and bear it for a while.