This Love Is Conditional
America is but a bridge.
It is temporary. It is but an exchange of goods between me and these fifty united states within the United States of America.
I love the United States of America.
It was there, in that vast body of land — and I speak of it from here, Canada, pointing over there, toward you, readers, who reside in the USA — that I learned how to speak, read, and write in English.
I learned of turkeys and pilgrims, docile Indians who were not Indian at all.
Through American literature, I have come to appreciate the genius of countless American authors, playwrights, poets, and orators whose works helped shape American society and my tiny brain. American military men fought mightily on local and foreign soil to preserve the liberal ideals of individual freedoms and protections from abusive and authoritative institutions and governing bodies.
American ideals helped me understand that outside of a democratic society there existed and still exists bodies of rulership where centralized power stands or falls on the mouth and thumbs of one man or one woman. A king, a prince, a queen, a monarch, or a hermit kingdom dictator. Tyrants wielding their power of millions; millions more without representation or protection from abuse of power.
I have come to value the perseverance of American patriotism as if there were nothing wrong with loving one’s country, that is if that country were America.
While living in America I have fostered some of the greatest relationships and friendships I could have ever dreamed of.
It was there, in the land where eagles catch your breakfast, bears, your lunch, and Abraham Lincoln warms your milk at night, that I came to meet my best friends. A pair of black twins and a white boy, not named Rick.
Mario, Maurice, and Arley G. Ryder Jr. (AJ).
These three fellas, all American, of course, because everyone is American, even the abuelita whose English is non-existent and whose papers are questionable, is American.
They’re my best friends. I love them. Cherish their wisdom, drive, ingenuity, and humor. We wept bitter tears together. Laughed through un-laughable moments, together. We’ve graced the Naples and Marco Island beaches in our speedos, prancing about as if nothing mattered. We’ve prank-called strangers, driven through wealthy communities past midnight in a beat-up Corolla — yes, we did get pulled over and we were asked what we were doing in the community, and yes, we lied — and we’ve spent so much of our time chasing after the ceaseless and endless pursuits of teenage dreams and aspirations…
And failed. Multiple times.
While living in America I have also developed an acquired taste for processed foods. The greasier, the saltier, the less healthy, and the quicker it could make its way from a freezer, to a microwave, to a bag, to my mouth, and then my large intestines, the better.
America taught me about Rambo 2, Total Recall, Universal Soldier, and George Clooney as Batman. Yes, Kilmer was around but no one liked the man.
America showed me just how beautiful New York City could be — in pictures.
While visiting Central Park I could not help myself thinking:
“Why is this park so large?”
Only to return to Florida to visit Universal Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Busch Gardens to complain about why they hadn’t made the parks bigger?
I learned to love and hate rollercoasters while living in America. I learned this while on a rollercoaster, minutes before rolling away.
America taught me to hate Communism. It also taught me to hate Nazis. Little did I know, most of the educators who wrote my school books explaining to me why Communism was wrong were former Nazis. American nazis versus German nazis is an argument for a different post, but that they were is out of the question.
But America is so great a nation that it can make a capitalist out of a national socialist in no time. All that is needed is for him or her to see a noose in one photo and a cache of gold bars in another. Few opted for the noose but that’s what made them un-American. Only un-American people hate money.
America taught me that a white man set black men free. Little did I know is that the same white man had a very low view of black men, even when they were free.
I learned about whigs, wooden teeth, and apple trees. Maybe it was a cherry tree. Do cherries even grow on trees?
America taught me about the Constitution even though I had little to no idea what a constitution even meant.
I’ve learned about the most effective and expeditious bodies of government in the world, second only to monarchies. The United States of America boasts of an executive branch, a legislative branch, and lastly, a judicial branch.
The first belongs to the president of the United States of America where he executes people and power, with executive orders. More so the people than the power, depending on the president.
The legislative branch consists of two warring factions of politically antagonistic bodies of representatives who represent local hatred for a neighbor on a national scale. Little is accomplished here. And when something is accomplished in the legislative branch, it is seldom enforced.
And that is why we have the beautiful judicial branch which picks up and cleans up where the second branch left off. Lawsuit heaven, I call it. The men and women who sit on the seat of legal power usually dress like death, why, I don’t know. But it makes them look less old. They serve in this role until they die.
It’s hell, really, but Americans love it therefore I learned to love it too. Not the compassionate, self-less love the world has come to warm its bosom with, but the idolatrous-murder-any-foreigner-who-dares-ask kind of love.
It is in America where I fell in love for the first time.
Well, the first time, I can’t recall. I was young. Too young to understand what love even meant. Might have been infatuation but Americans rarely distinguish between the two because their vocabulary is quite limited in describing the term. They love coffee and ice cream the same way they love babies and nuclear weapons. It’s love but not love love.
And it was also the place where I fell in love with my wife. Granted, I was there and she was elsewhere but I think America gets the credit for housing the tech company that allowed us to meet in the first place.
So yes, America helped me find love.
America helped me bring my first child into the world. The little one was quiet, honored, and humbled by the privilege of being born in the United States of America. When she cried, and she would, she did it while facing an American flag.
It didn’t matter which way she looked, there was a flag everywhere. I’m sure there’s one in her heart. She doesn’t know it yet.
America lovingly, and there is that ambiguous term again, mailed me a thirty-thousand dollar hospital bill because birthing Americans isn’t cheap. They’re thirty grand each. Unfortunately, we had to find out the hard way.
And the hard way meant not being rich enough to pay for medical insurance. If you’re wealthy, America provides for you. If you’re poor, America provides you the service which it then collects in bills like the one we received.
That is one debt we still owe this great nation. One we will never pay.
That’s the American thing to do.
From Mount Rushmore to Payless, America has instilled in me a ‘work hard play hard’ ethic and I have been hard at work ever since. Much of the work isn’t necessarily hard but I must make my American friends believe it is because anything less is unAmerican.
What of America’s anthropogenic sin, namely, racism and slavery?
Well, I’ll have to answer that one a little later. During Black History Month, to be exact.
Yes, America has given us eleven months to focus on Americans, or rather, white American history, save one month, February. Someone alluded to the existence of a Latin American History month but most Americans don’t like spicy food nor do they condone unAmerican music, say, reggaeton or tango, so they avoid the month altogether. The month has little to do with food and much to do with history and heritage, but it is unAmerican to educate Americans about anything happening outside of America so we leave it be.
Someone else alluded to the fact that Americans now celebrate Pride Month as well. Most Americans believe this should be celebrated twelve months out of the year, dating back to July 1, 1776.
Again, whether this Pride Month pertains to the independence of America from British tyranny or the civil rights of a particular community is irrelevant for most Americans. A beer in hand, lazy boy underfoot, unnecessarily large LCD tv ahead, unpaid credit card bills, sky-high interest percentages, and clogged arteries are all that is needed to appease an American mind.
The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The New York Post all hail from America. They’re all the same but separate, like white and black Americans.
One is given the air of seriousness and integrity, the next, artistic praise, and the third is mocked and dismissed as trash by the court of public opinion. Yet, it still brings in a steady stream of revenue.
America owns the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. We can’t find receipts but we trust the books that the process and purchase were honest.
America taught me about Haitians because until then, I had not known about Haiti. I mean, I moved to America at the ripe and mature age of six, months short of turning seven.
I knew very little about the world then. I know less now since I was educated in America. America does that to you. The longer you live there, the less you learn about the world.
It is unAmerican to understand global perspectives because pursuing the interest of the planet makes you a globalist. And all Americans know globalists are communists. So, not allowed.
It was in America where I had a Polish social studies teacher. That’s it. I can’t remember the rest because they just melt into this glob of sameness. Not because they’re white, well, over 95% of them were but because they all had the same average white American vibe.
Most of them were amazing human beings. They taught me so much about science, physics, arithmetics, and history.
Tara Barr helped me understand the world of genetics. She was kind to me in my fundamentalist days where I thought Darwin and Evolution were to the world what Stalin and Communism are to America. Namely, the devil and his money-hating economic systems. She was kind and informative to my intellectually limited fundamentalist mind.
Mrs. Gordon, I cannot recall her first name, was such a nice woman. I met her daughter, six weeks after she had been born — the more American you are the fewer weeks you need at home before returning to work after giving birth — and her tiny little daughter wept when she saw me. Mrs. Gordon laughed and we both cherished this shared memory. I was in the sixth grade, then.
Mrs. Hendershot taught me to use “may I use the restroom” instead of the “can I use the restroom” because Americans are very limited in their understanding of semantics. You might as well learn to speak American because English is not their preferred language of choice.
As the ability to pee takes second place to privilege. Can. May. I once heard that woman fart in class. She never asked us for permission to fart in class. She took it upon herself to liberate her innermost dwellings of its residents without asking us, “May I flatulate in your presence, dear students?”
“Yes, you can fart, Mrs. Hendershot. But may you? MAY YOU?! Not in class, ma’am.”
I’m confident she was well into her 187th year of life. No doubt about it. Americans live very long lives. At least the very wealthy Americans who demand children properly ask to use the restroom and then fart in their presence without asking do. They live the longest.
America taught me to play the upright double bass in orchestra class. I learned to read music, thanks to Mr. (now Dr.) Rankin. Dr. Rankin was a black man. Well, he still is. But what I mean is that he was the first black teacher I had ever had.
As my recollection allows, I can also say he was one of the wisest ones I ever had the pleasure of learning from.
In America, I discovered that I loved American football but American football requires of its players an American diet, which, I hadn’t been spoon-fed from birth so I was physically disadvantaged in the field. I did not produce eighty pounds of muscle mass in the three months between middle school and high school. I could not lift as much weight as the 6’5″, 230lbs freshmen in my class. I entered high school weighing a prime 135lbs. I left high school weighing 145lbs. Ten pounds of unAmerican fat in just four years. (Canada has graced me with the voluptuous figure of a dad of four girls. 182ish-lbs, last I checked.)
So I turned to track and field in hopes of making a name for myself. I did. For a very short time. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience. Racing and chasing giants through the track were by far some of the happiest moments of my life. Knowing that there was one resolute thing I could do to benefit a team or an entity and that I could do that one thing so well, gave me joy.
I ran. I ran a lot. I’ve probably run more miles than Forrest Gump. Mind you, Gump isn’t real so there’s no way you can disprove that statement.
America taught me so much and I’ve learned so much more after leaving her behind. Truly, America, you are something special.
I could go on, for years, actually, about the eighteen years America allowed me to grace its shores before kicking me out. Well, in reality, I left before she kicked me out. My DACA documents were months away from expiring and the president (2016) wasn’t too big on naturalizing law-abiding non-citizens like myself. So we left.
I could go on. But I won’t. Not today. Not this year. But someday I will attempt to recapture my American experience in its entirety before dementia takes over.
The reason why I am forcing my memory to war with my present is that I am days, if not weeks away from tackling an American narrative I was never taught before, a narrative I was intentionally never taught about while living in the US.
An America that would have hated everything about me… not too long ago.
Therefore, for now, for this very short moment, I will only speak of the things America has done for me. Good things. Somewhat good things. Great things.
This post was simply my eulogy of America. One I have yet to complete and America’s death is not yet here so… well, in time.
Rome fell. America isn’t far behind. I wish it were.
Its democratic ideals have faltered exceptionally well at the feet of corporate oligarchs. And this saddens me.
But America was but a bridge for me. A long white old and tattered creaking bridge that allowed me to pass over it just so that I could get off its back on the other side.
Now that I’m on the other side, safe and sound, I can finally look back and see the bridge for what it is: a trap.
Before crossing this bridge it was a golden ticket to limitless opportunities. After crossing, it was moments away from killing me. Perhaps not in a literal sense, well, maybe, with the high probability of mass shootings happening all around the country and all; but in a figurative sense.
America almost killed everything in me that lived for everything outside of America, mainly, intelligence and the artistic drive to live for someone and something other than America.
My leaving her and all of the precious memories birthed within her was the best thing that could have happened to me, an American.
America, and Americans, sans Florida man, I love you, well, I have loved you but I think our long and complicated relationship has come to an end.
I loved you like Rick James loved drugs. It was blind dependence. I did not love you like Django loved Broomhilda.
Our relationship was abusive and you benefited from my toil whereas all I got in return was a ‘you are not welcome here’ stamp on my passport.
I thought I would look back at you the way Alfred looked at Bruce Wayne but I find myself looking at you the way Dr. King Schultz looked at Monsieur Calvin Candie before they parted ways.
Let’s not shake hands.
Featured Image is mine.