I have spent a lifetime trying to keep up with you. How to blend in and be treated with the same respect at school and at work. A lifetime wondering how to be equal.
I tried wearing your clothes. Your jeans and sweaters as camouflage. I wore baseball caps and Adidas and learned how to change a tire. I cut my hair. I put my emotions in my pocket and flashed your bravado instead.
At a high school party, I elbowed past a group of you peering under the hood of a car. I grabbed the jumper cables my father put in my trunk, and brought the useless vehicle back to life while you watched. You didn’t pat me on the back.
I learned to like the taste of beer. I declined the offers of White Zin and Peach Schnapps, and asked if you had any whiskey. You laughed and handed me a warm Budweiser.
I avoided physical contact; anything that would make you realize I wasn’t one of you. I laughed at your jokes. I learned that the dirtier jokes made for bigger laughs, and I learned to tell them with ease. You shook your head and told me I was cute.
The power you were born with was harder to duplicate. I was not granted your ease, the way you breezed through life, expecting privileges. Eventually, I learned that this strength was also your weakness.
I did not want to be you. I wanted to be better than you.
I grew my hair. Bought a skirt. Got a degree and a job in your field.
And while you sat back and expected that promotion, I stayed late and studied hard. I became your boss. You called me a bitch.
When I fired you, I cried in the bathroom. That is my power: I can be strong and I can feel. I can do your job, I can do it better, and I can laugh and cry and be human.
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