Notes on San Diego
by Jessica Lohafer
“Alright, I’m open. I’m like a fucking lotus.”
I miss home, but for reasons I didn’t expect. I have found that I’m just a touch too aggressive for the sunny temperament of this city. The first night I was here, Hanna and I went to a jazz bar. The place was dead, empty except for a crew of sixty year old men, visiting because of the Experimental Biology Convention. We ordered a drink, and were immediately accosted by a man drunk off Scotch. I have no problem defending myself against this kind of behavior. But before I could say a thing, the bartender had hurried over and told the man to leave. Here’s the interesting thing: he didn’t say, “Leave them alone. Get out of here.” Instead, he responded with, “Hey buddy, this is my girlfriend. Can you leave them alone, please?” It was weirdly apologetic. Why not just tell him he’s being inappropriate? Why do I have to be your girlfriend to be respected? Strange. I have a whole new appreciation for the progressive inclination of Bellingham; at home, if someone was hassling me, they’d stop, or be asked to leave. No excuses. This is, of course, only if I hadn’t already handled it myself.
This dynamic has made me uncomfortable, overly sensitive of my own personal vernacular. I have found out that I a.) swear like a sailor, b.) use the words vagina, uterus, and fallopian tube way more than the average person, and c.) have an incredibly short fuse for jokes that are shocking because they’re either racist, sexist, or homophobic. It’s made me wonder about the line, how far someone should be able to go before I speak up. Years under the thumb of certain oppressive fundamentalist Christian notions have made me quick to act; I’m not going to feel bad about calling anyone out. But do you do it every time? Has feminism become my new religion? Am I the overzealous church kid who can’t take a joke? I tend to err on the side of consistency. I want the people around me to expect a conscious response to whatever they’re saying, offensive or not. I want to be known as someone who listens. It’s a conversation that needs to happen, finding a way to address these issues as they arise in casual interactions. I would love feedback.
All of this said, you would laugh your ass off to see me here. Sometimes so awkward. To be fair, most everyone has been completely kind. Hanna’s family is fantastic and nothing if not welcoming and warm. For those individuals who weren’t, well, I think I adequately conveyed my opinion of their actions. Which is to say, I might have indicated that they could perform certain acts on my person. Involving certain body parts that I might not actually possess. Until said act came to fruition.
See, I can clean up my language!
(Later, some poems.)