Today, I slept in. Because last night, I was up late at my cousin's house playing with my cousins because it was my cousin's birthday. My cousin drove me home.
The plan was to hang out at their place, take it easy, have some drinks, and just catch-up. We caught up, and then we started talking about our family, and then we started talking about intergenerational trauma.
If you ask our aunts and uncles, they'll say that Greenwood was actually a lot of fun because they were just kids, and so they just played all day! Which is probably true. They were definitely kids. So they were probably playing.
But I moved in with my grandma at the beginning of September, and since then, I have discovered in addition to the fact that they were kids and that they were playing, that they had cardboard shoes ("and Greenwood, you know, so it was really rainy, so when it got wet, we replaced it, the cardboard"); that in the winter, when it got cold, the walls and the floor would freeze ("In Greenwood, the walls used to be like that, and the floor, like that, with frost"); that they were treated like animals ("And they put us on a train! Like cattle! You know... yeah!"); and yet, that Greenwood was a home ("I keep this, fool's gold, from the mountain, because it reminds me of Greenwood") . . .
Of all the things I've discovered about my family's experiences in Greenwood since moving in with my grandma, the most heartbreaking thing was the fool's gold. It's in a little ceramic jar on the windowsill, about six or so pieces of fool's gold, and the jar is in a little clear plastic bag.
"I said I'd like to go to the mountain to collect some fool's gold, I said. So we did, so I don't know... I keep it, because it reminds me of Greenwood."
She had taken each piece out so carefully.
"And when we went back up... it was all gone."
When my cousin's husband came home with their daughter, having picked her up from the birthday party she had been at, my cousin asked him how the party was, and he said he didn't know because he didn't stay, and she said you didn't want to come home for dinner?, and he said but he thought we'd be PARTYING, that you girls would be blasting Taylor Swift! and he did a little jig thing, and she just sort of looked at him and said no, and then they had a strange conversational tension about whether the cake she had made was orange cake or lemon cake, and later, when she was off with the kids momentarily and I was chatting with him, I asked him how his day was, and he said: good, a lot of driving. He didn't want to come home for dinner, I guess. He just drove around that whole time.
But my cousin and I were talking about intergenerational trauma because we're pretty sure our family has been traumatized by the experience of being Japanese Canadian during the Second World War. And by the racism, discrimination, hatred, etc., either external or internalized, which occurred in the post-war and subsequent years. This we discussed over fresh grapefruit juice and gin on the rocks in a big, old, friendly, have-to-move-out-by-the-end-of-the-month house while the kids (including one brand new 13-year-old) hung out in the living room.
And my grandma finished reading The Poisonwood Bible.
"I finally finished that damn book!"
"Did you?! What did you think of it?!"
"Phew! It just dragged on!"
I chuckled, "Yeah, it's a pretty long book..."
We agreed that yes, it was pretty long, maybe too long.
"I think Ruth May's death really affected the family."
"Yeah... I mean, that'll do it."
"Yeah, and the father hit his head or something."