For me this is one of these songs that conjures so many memories:
Although, now that I’m “getting old”, it takes on new meanings deeper than even the memories of hearing this as a kid on the record player as a youngster.
I guess one could say that a song like this is like one of those fine wines, cigars, etc. where you could savor all the subtle flavors and such. But not knowing much about fine wines or cigars, I don’t know if I’m qualified for that analogy. But, I’m sure folks would know what I mean.
I just watched the movie Erasing Hate. See the following trailer…
At first I was almost immediately turned off as I couldn’t shake the feeling of it being SPLC propaganda. I also get perturbed by the word “hate” being thrown around the way it does now days, although in this movie I realized it’s appropriate. But, it kind of brought up a lot of feelings about my own past and things that I still struggle with.
No, I’ve never been a Nazi skinhead, or even a hard-core outspoken racist. But, as mentioned in previous posts (like Hiter hiding behind the door and Mama tried), my mom was what was referred to as a “Featherwood”. Her penchant for convicts led to me having numerous white power “step-fathers” in the house, and being exposed to this ideal.
[Note: I would like to say one thing about many of these “prison Nazi’s” of both genders: Most people don’t understand the racial politics of survival in penal institutions. I refuse to judge any of these individuals, including my own mother, because I understand why they did what they did. No I have never done time in a state correctional institute, but I believe what I’ve been told.]
Anyway, overall I did appreciate the movie for Brian’s experience. It was rather interesting to see a physical representation of the undoing of one’s past. But, it was a real ride to watch his physical and emotional transformation. Granted, he had already left the lifestyle, but the tattoo removal brought up old feelings that were discussed on film.
There is a part of the film where Brian says (heavily paraphrased):
I did so much bad shit to people that didn’t even deserve it that I can’t forgive myself. I know it says in the Bible that you have got to forgive yourself because God forgives you. I may be forgiven by him, but I am having a hard time forgiving myself for all the bad shit I have done.
He then goes on to mention that over time it’s no longer angering, or nauseating to him, but rather it is just disappointing. That right there hits the nail on the head and that is where it kind of started tugging at my own emotions. As he said, he knows he is forgiven, but he can’t forgive himself. It is amazing that years later, the regret and shame you can be flooded with for something that you’ve done in your past.
I used to jokingly say “it is better to regret something you did do, than something you didn’t do.” Now I can honestly say that is flat out a load of crap. It’s something that youngsters say to excuse their behavior. Ask any old dude that believed that way when they were young and have later experienced major positive changes in their life and I bet they’ll also agree to it being bovine splatter.
I always joke that I am “white trash, once removed”, but I’m starting to wonder about that once removed. Maybe that title can be passed on to the children, because I’m not quite sure if I’ve really earned the “once removed” part and am coming to the realization that I don’t really care if I do or not.
I always wrestle with that “wrong side of the tracks” feeling regardless of which side of the tracks I’m on. I mean, I’ve come from being the result of a teen pregnancy of farmer’s stock and migrant farm worker stock. I never had anything that was passed on other than a heritage of riding Harley’s from my father’s side, and my Great-great-grandfather’s pocket watch from my mother’s side (with all the gold worn off from being taken in and out of bib-overalls for multiple generations.)
I worked my ass off for every bit of “progress” that I have made, never taking any handouts. This is no small claim after spending my latter child-years as a product of the hand-out system while living with my mother. She knew how to work the system… welfare, food stamps, playing the “rental” game where you got to be a pain in the ass to the landlord until finally it was time to move on after months of not paying, etc. (a good number of those residences being either trailer parks, or subsidized housing apartments, but thankfully a few mountain retreats here and there.) I had plenty of excuses to take handouts, but luckily I had enough pride, self-respect, and work ethic from looking at the right people, to hold my head up and not go down that path.
Eventually after my “young, dumb, and eager to… ahem” years in which I knocked up other white trash and then moved on after finding out said white trash was screwing some of the neighbors in the apartment complex while I busted my ass working in the hot and dirty fields of someone else’s farm, I looked for better stock and found it in the form of a pretty little daughter of a doctor. Luckily at that time Garth Brooks had all the little good girls longing for a cowboy, and while I was more of a plowboy than a cowboy at the time, It got my foot in the door. Long story short, good stock girl and white trash boy of troubled past fell in love and have been happily married for decades now.
Even though I joke about being domesticated, I still ain’t feeling it totally. Sure, we once had a large house, in a nice subdivision; we have all the required toys and tokens of success (along with the debt that goes along with them,) and I even have what could be considered a white-collar job. But, what did I go and do nearly 10 years ago (to much annoyance of my doctor’s daughter sweetheart?) I bought us a double-wide to live in while we were to build our home in desirable school district for our children.
It was to be “temporary” but the boom hit, prices soared, and we sold our dream lot overlooking the valley. 10 years later and we are still living in that double-wide (“previously unoccupied manufactured home on permanent foundation” is what I was trained to say, but she doesn’t read this blog, or even know that it exists, so I can admit I live in a trailer.) The thing is, I am perfectly happy with this little less than 1400 square foot “trailer”. I can honestly say I am glad we didn’t undertake the construction of that stucco sided, tile roofed, McMansion that would have us in debt for way more than we are now.
Hell, going this route I own my late-model Harley (and a couple other bikes), I own my truck, and shortly I will own my fifth-wheel toy hauler. I’ve told my baby (which I’ll take the liberty to refer to now as “ol’ lady” in this entry since I am forbidden to use that term also,) that I honestly feel that if everything fell apart; I wouldn’t mind hooking up the fifth-wheel, rolling the scoot in the back, and just going here and there living in nice RV parks around this great land of ours. The “ol’ lady” likes that idea as much as she likes being called the ol’ lady.
Anyway, the point of all this rambling is, here I am, supposedly white trash once removed, yet I would willingly take all these trappings of the non-white-trash world and throw them in the burn barrel. Well, except for the Birkenstocks maybe, and the pepper and salt grinders, and the really good-stuff olive oils. I just can’t say I have truly developed an affinity for the non-white trash world. Which by the way, would that be the Yuppie world? I honestly don’t know what the hell “those people” are called? I used to call them “rich folks” before I just realized they had a butt-load of debt.
But this also brings me back to the children (which aren’t really children anymore). Since I’m securely willing to claim the title of white-trash, will they now be the white-trash once removed? I know they feel that same bit of shame that I felt about bringing their non-white-trash friends around as I did; preferring instead to go to their friends house, rather than exposing the fact that we live in a double-wide. At the same time though, I see them with that same little feeling of being on the wrong side of the tracks, regardless of which side they are on.
Maybe there is hope for them yet. Maybe they’ll not choose that Yuppie path and will instead realize that there is happiness to be found in simple little structures, with simple good people. Maybe they’ll eventually claim to be white trash once removed, and then come to the realization that it ain’t so bad to be white trash, and let their kids pick up the “once removed” title and evaluate where they want to be. While I guess in a way I hope they’ll be doctors and lawyers and such, but at the same time I just hope that whatever they are, they learn to be content. Being content is truly the secret to happiness, whichever side of the tracks you are on. That’s why you can have happy white trash… they are simply content, which is something those Yuppies (or whatever the hell they are called) will never understand.