Content note: Tense family stuff and inequality / sexism / racism.
So, I live with alias-pseudonym in a small, slightly-run-down apartment building in a diverse neighbourhood, which is honestly how I prefer it. The surroundings are slowly gentrifying, but the landlord recently put in a shiny new stove, so I like to think we'll be safe here for the near future.
Alias' family is quite well-to-do, though. (It turns out that White Christian preachers are exempt from having to choose between serving God and Mammon.) So in order to do family get-togethers, we have to go on an epic public transit adventure to get to the Rich People Suburbs.
"It was f**ing World War III in here"
Yesterday's adventure started, as most of ours do, with catching the bus at a nearby stop. This time, as soon as we got on the driver ordered a man in back to get off. He did so only under a great deal of loud protest, blaming everyone else for the racket he had apparently caused, and only left in the end because the driver threatened to call the police. After that finally ended and we drove off, a woman who was the target of much of his ire placed a shaken phone call, about how disrespectful he was and how much he was ranting.
I was mostly okay after this. We talked about it with Alias some.
A while later, we got to the Rich People Suburbs, where an old man who looked like one of the men who had given the wedding prayers picked us up in a car. We then drove for a few minutes through the neighbourhood from Get Out, complete with enormous, identical white houses and a Mormon temple overlooking them all.
We made small talk for a few minutes with the other millennials there, but it was hard to relate to most of them. All the other girls there were impossibly attractive, and lived much more exciting lives than us, with opportunities for travel and performance arts that were only possible because of their moneyed families.
We and Alias left early, and on the car ride back to the station with Alias' immediate family we suggested, in conversation, that rich people didn't need our help supporting public transit because they could do so perfectly well on their own. This caused a long, awkward silence.
On the train and bus rides back, we met a Black man who'd been on the same bus we'd rode in on, where "World War III" had happened. He was friendly to us, and we got to ask him what exactly had gone on before that white guy was asked to leave. I still don't know what he was ranting about, but he was doing it very loudly, and when the shaken woman asked him to shut up he switched to f**cking telling her the f**k off.
We commiserated about how entitled white men (as a group) are, and I honestly felt much better afterwards. It dispelled a lot of the tension that'd been hanging over us, and I was able to go home and play card games with Alias to relax.
I don't think either of us are really comfortable with these kinds of social outings. Being an introvert, Alias has always had trouble with them. For me it's even worse, though, because of the economic precarity I've had to deal with for most of my life. Nowadays, being around rich white people just brings back memories of all the rude and oblivious people at church, who might open their doors for one reason or another but were a-ok with inequality. Who drove us to pick up cheap groceries from the Bishop's storehouse, but still lived in comfort while we worried about whether or not dad could find a decent job.
I really don't like being brought back to that place, mentally.
Carl Jung once said something about how loneliness has less to do with how many people there are around you, and more to do with whether or not you feel you can say what's important to you.
That's why I complain so much about inequality, sexism, racism, and so on. Every day I'm reminded that I live in a society founded on all of these things, even if it's slightly better (or at least more polite) here than in the States. I can't ignore it, the way the white people I talk to here can. And when they lapse into awkward silences, like when I made the comment about rich people paying for transit or another comment about Canada's treatment of indigenous people, it shows me what parts of their psyches and societies they are not willing to confront.
Conversely, when I meet someone I can talk about these things with I feel so much better about myself. It's like a weight's taken off of my shoulders, and I can approach the work of surviving within this society with a sense of humour rather than fatalism. It's not about nursing a grudge; it's about finding the strength to go on.
So thank you all for reading, listening, and commenting here. It means a lot to me.