We met in front of a basketball court.
We left nearly two hours later, and we barely approached the surface, let alone scratched it.
We talked about race.
I am standing next to a basketball court, in my hometown, with a Black man 1/2 my age, talking about his experience of race as a young man with White parents living in the all White part of his home town. Unless he was visiting with biological relatives on the weekend, in the mostly Black part of town.
He explained what it was like to have what he named privilige while with them, and not enjoying it without them. He explained how being at the table at 5:45 in his parents house did not translate into what he called “big easy” time across town at his aunt’s house, where people came and went, and the meal had a flow not an exact start or stop. I tried to listen so closely that I could feel myself for a moment witnessing the inside of his story.
Imagining my own son, who was off playing basketball with a half court of grown men telling me he felt he was not black enough over here, and not white enough over there.
I asked him about our plans to visit Sam’s first family next spring, and what suggestions he had for preparing any and everyone for the first visit.
“Pronouns,” he said.
“Pronouns?” He explained. He shared. I took it in, and then we strategized if there was anything I could do to help Sam’s birth siblings consider how they use possessive pronouns, like saying “our mom,” instead of “my mom” might be real helpful and inclusive to Sam. I would never have considered that in a million years.
Did I mention that Pete was a poet in middle school? That when he told me about being the recipient of the National Association of University Women Creative Writing Award as a teenager my heart swelled. We talked about writing now, and what that might look like one day.
Did I mention that having ninety minutes and not ninety hours with someone whose story positively enthralls you, and who you clearly were meant to know for at least a zillion different reasons is really hard.
Our whirlwind visit home to Virginia and DC was meaningful and sweet and packed and shifting for me in other ways too. Pretty wild how much life can be packed into 72 hours huh?
Both Pete and I pushed ourselves, outside of our comfort zone in the name of something bigger than both of us I think. We sensed that in our connecting, in our face to face meeting a new understanding might begin to surface for everyone involved. Sammy was for the most part doing his own thing–which made total sense. My hope is that the connections we all begin to form today, might provide Sam (and Pete and myself) with a familiar and helpful ear later on, as needed. For me at least, the immediate benefit I feel to having connected with Pete is palpable.
When I was talking to him about other adult male transracially adopted men of color who blog and who I thought he might enjoy reading he said; “with our story there is a place we all overlap eventually. It’s a given.” Powerful. Deep. Meeting Pete.
I sent this post to Pete for his OK. If you have specific comments/questions for him, feel free to post them in the comments below. Who knows–he might even answer! (hint, hint Pete…)