My reading is blurring with my real life, again. After seeing--what, four?--movies based on his books, I'm finally reading Dennis Lehane's Mystic River. I thought about his hard-ass working-class Boston characters today when I got to the playground with Adinah and V.
Deanie has taken to a new boy at kindergarten. His name is Manuel, and I've never really noticed him before, though as I watched them play together today, I could see that he's a sweet kid. But I kept my distance from Manuel's parents. I have noticed his father: a beefy, unsmiling guy who's always in a white baseball cap and white jacket with Formula 1 patches. Whenever I see him there, he looks uncomfortable and eager to get the hell out of the kindergarten. I've only become aware of Manuel's mom lately, probably because she's smiled at me once or twice. She looks washed-out, and too old for her age. All in all, somehow, they look like a family who don't have as much money as we do.
Which is weird, because aside from the fact that we're buying our apartment, Anette and I aren't exactly bathing in milk and honey these days. But there it is--they look different from us, so I presume they won't speak English, so I don't cross the playground to say hi, even as our kids tear up a significant chunk of the sandbox together. A "real,"or more precisely put, an easy conversation with them seems as impossible as one with the hard-knock-life housewives and ex-cons in my book. I feel a difference between me and them.
But not Adinah. She plays with the kids she likes. She isn't reading class yet. She plays with the Croatian kids of hairdressers and the Vienna-born kids of novelists. She doesn't feel the wall between her and the kids who live in the Gemeindebau super blocs. I envy her. I hate these lines that separate us. But of course I honor them too.
And I know that unless I make some effort to talk to/deal with/break through to people who are different from us, Adinah will be acting like me soon enough.
That's more than a little fucked up.