Good Morning

Whenever someone audibly says “good morning” to me in public, I get the feeling of being in church.  And I say “good morning” back in the strangest of voices.

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It feels formally spiritual, randomly intimate.

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I think we did not say “good morning” to each other where I came from.  I think mornings were not good.  Just a continuation of the sore body work day before.  And weekends the space of second and third jobs.

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A man sleeping and eating at one of the United States’ many homeless shelters said to me on Thursday: “Your hands are too soft for someone who works 3 jobs.”  And then we played an intense game of Scrabble with another man who sleeps and eats there.  College students made us bad grilled cheese and tomato soup.  We laughed and hoped they were not studying to be culinary artists.  I was thankful for the bad food, too.  My soft hands a marker of my educational, but not class privilege.

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Later, over the board of letter possibilities, which became increasingly limited and increasingly expanded, as our moves were interconnected, we played sounds we had learned as children in place of words.  We challenged each other with a copyrighted authority in the form of a Scrabble dictionary published in 1996.  And we offered the insults we learned in place of love, too.  We laughed.  We slid and slapped our hands together and here, the contrast of my white privilege met my soft, educated hands. We left fingerprints of food pantry pistachio dust on each other’s skin.  A treat.  Because I could go in the kitchen and bring out whatever I wanted to.

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I wanted to lose that game, but respect and competition had me playing to win.  Or maybe it was my lack of gender privilege and the echo of questionable demands of my sex, of me.

Respected and sexualized me?

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I came in second place.

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They went to bed on the floor.

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I went home to where I have a bed, but chose not to sleep in it.

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And much too early, we all got up and went back to work.

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