Growing up in the south
, summer jobs, I wandered among them
: farmers, mechanics, laborers, in my educated sore-thumb manner. I heard them speak
, and sometimes I worried for our future, for our social structure, for their children. I watched them work
, and I began to understand that there is an immutable dignity to manual labor
. I heard them speak, and I listened more closely, realizing, as usual, that categorization was not so easy as one might think. And until you have seen the places they are from
, and until you have stood beside them, straining on your tiptoes to hold up one end of a 600 pound canvas tent, until you have felt, over the course of years, in three month intervals, your body sweating in the midday sun
, your muscles and sinew slowly hardening, the flesh of your hands eroding away and returning, becoming rough and calloused
, and you have come home exhausted, dragging in with sweat running into your eyes and your seven-dollars-an-hour paycheck in hand, when you finally understand the pride that comes from a repair, a construction, made at the expense of your own body
, and the feeling that not only have you changed something in the world, but have changed yourself, your structure as well, when you realize just how intimate your connection with physical matter really is, only then will you begin to have the understanding required to make a judgement about such a man
. or woman.
Many times have my neck and arms been burned darker than the rest of me. And sometimes I really miss those days.