Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It looks good on paper

The other day I was justifying, making excuses, acting out the part of a person who can't be made accountable for their own life.  I was talking about Steve--my friend, the 66 year old formerly homeless person who lived with us for three years, who just moved out to do a job that he sees as his calling in life, who calls us his family.  I was talking about Steve to someone and I said:  "I guess it sounds impressive to say that we lived with a man who was homeless. But, in reality it only looks good on paper."  What I meant was true enough--after some initial hiccups I found living with Steve to be a real joy.  I like his stodgy, ornery way of being in the world. We clicked. In the last three years Steve spent a fair amount of time helping us--supporting my dream of a street newspaper, walking our dog, reading to our kids, taking out the garbage, making Wednesday night Spaghetti.  I said "it only looks good on paper," in part, because I wanted to say that it is not hard to live with Steve... I love Steve.  But, there was another more insidious side to the matter. There is my deep seeded sense that I  am a fraud.  Who thinks if I squeak by at all  in life it will be because the externalities--the paperwork--checks out right.  I admit right now that I can be a bit of a liar in all my self-abnegations, and I might just not know all they ways in which this lying hurts folks.  I hated the main character in "A Catcher in the Rye" who calls everyone "fake"--maybe I have become that person and my treatment of myself is an evocative example of this attitude.     

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