And just like that, that was that. No sense of being at all, Angel wrote in the spidery script of a nine-year-old. He titled the new page in his diary Freedom Day, March 29th 2007. He was dazed by the abrupt shock of having dropped from one sphere into another in a matter of seconds. The course that had taken three decades to unfold had suddenly advanced with blinding speed: Attica’s prison gates closed behind him. Freedom.
There was really no way of knowing how to deal with society’s various forms of racism and ignorance. Neither Lin nor Peter were ever mocked for their skin color or religion, so they “invented” their responses as they went along. One day Max came home reporting that a kid in school had yelled at him, “Your skin is the color of poop!” He remembers, “We were all talking trash. I was probably yelling terrible things at him. And our team was losing, so I was mad.”
The mainstream conversation is colored by if-arguments, eerily reminiscent of the 1950s, when women without children were pitied (and, possibly, pitied themselves). If I had found the right partner… If I had had enough money… If my childhood hadn’t been so bad… Whatever the reasons, they all suggest that something went wrong. I don’t have any if-arguments (which doesn’t mean that things don’t go wrong in my life). I simply never wanted to have children. Not when I was 20, not when I was 30 and not today.
Every morning a group of us, including Oliver, would swim across Eagle Lake. Our host, Harriet, insisted on accompanying us in her little metal boat. The motorboats that in recent years had taken over the tranquil lake could not be trusted; it would be easier for them to spot a little boat powered by a very tall and assertive woman than the school of little fish that we were. On land, Oliver’s body seemed old and frail, but in the water it was young again.