I want to write a book this summer, with drawings and text intermingled, and finally write down a bunch of the stories I have in my head from growing up. Not a “memoir” per se, but more a disconnected group of random stories (with pictures), all of which have been important to me.
This one just came blasting back, and I think it’s pretty representative of the kind of things I’m thinking about:
She freaked out. The class I was in at school and the neighborhood I was living in were all white, and she was convinced I had become this racist living under those circumstances. She immediately trotted out all these tales of racial equality, about the suffering of blacks under whites, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, and so forth.
What it just dawned on me was, what I was really asking her was if *I* could ever be a garbageman, or if you had to be a black guy to do it. I was obsessed with garbage from a really early age (still am) and consider garbagemen to be one of the most important, key figures in any society. You can do without stockbrokers… you can’t do without garbagemen. I’ve always thought about garbagemen as these incredible, heroic people who just make all the bad stuff go away… and what I was really asking was, Could I ever be that worthy, that good?
I’m still obsessed with them. Sometimes, at 5am, I hear the garbage trucks on our block, and I wake up annoyed that something has disturbed me and my sleep; but as soon as I realize that the sound is that of people hauling the garbage away, I breathe a happy sigh. It honestly comforts me.