Highlights from Saturday’s Six-Hour Volunteer Meeting
|Since I am writing this under my pen name, I will not share any names nor divulge the organization I volunteer for. Let’s simply say that I have been benefitting from this organization since I was quite young, volunteering since I graduated high school, and I’m thirty now, but I was still the youngest person at this meeting.
As a millennial, I’ve found comfort in the “OK boomer” meme. It was fresh on my mind during the meeting, yet I found no instance to actually use it. The thing is that these people I volunteer with are the most open-minded, amazing people on the planet and I respect them all.
This may turn out to be more of a ramble. I woke up early for the meeting and I felt that the meeting was unnecessarily long not to mention the fact that I had to travel two hours each way, so I was snappy with my family when I got home afterwards and needed some time to myself to recover. However, I wound up recalling a few things that happened at the meeting and couldn’t sleep, so here I am typing at 2AM. I’ll go back and proofread before I post this, but I will not make significant changes. I want the raw emotion to shine through.
Writing “Kaiba’s Prostitute” is the most important thing in my life at the moment. When I was tired after the meeting, I felt some regret over agreeing to take on a position of significant responsibility in the organization. There’s a lot I’ve committed to do for it in the upcoming year, and I’ve questioned whether it is worth it, but upon further reflection, I realize that it is.
Joan’s backstory in “Kaiba’s Prostitute” mirrors my own. Her agoraphobia from her traumatic internship is based on an experience I had at a summer job back when I was twenty. It was that experience that led me to create this pen name in the first place. I still have anxiety and fear over coming out as polyamorous under my legal name, but occasionally it just pops out because it is such a core part of my identity. Hopefully a day will come when I don’t need to worry about it anymore.
I didn’t have the word polyamory back when I was twenty. I figured out that I wasn’t monogamous at nineteen, but without the word, without a community, I was shooting blind. I tried explaining it to my coworkers, and it completely backfired.
I don’t remember the moment I first learned the word polyamory, but it clarified so much. It’s validating. It gives us a banner to make our voices heard.
I’m going to use numbers and letters in place of names for the people sitting around the table at 3’s house. If they ever stumble upon this, they’ll know who they are. To them, I’m 2. These numbers do not signify any sort of rank. Although there is a certain level of seniority, we are essentially equals within the organization.
Two years ago, when I worked under 3, I let it slip to 3 that I’m polyamorous. She and her husband still came to my wedding last year. We have not discussed the fact that I’m polyamorous since that day two years ago, but 3 recommended me highly when the position for 2 needed to be filled.
During the meeting on Saturday, we broke for pizza and spent some time socializing. I was sitting next to 5. 5 told me that when she was growing up, nobody was gay. She went on to clarify that gay people still existed back then, but nobody would admit it. Gay people didn’t feel safe exploring/expressing that part of themselves. It wasn’t talked about. Gay people didn’t have a word to describe themselves.
I couldn’t resist responding. “That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to tell the polyamorous community. They say we’re not disenfranchised and oppressed, but we’re going through the same thing.”
Dead silence befell the entire room.
3 took that opportunity to resume the meeting and started discussing organizational matters again. I sat there with my stomach churning, wondering if I would get kicked out or ostracized for what I just said. It took a while for me to get back into the swing of the meeting.
4 brought up his latest job in Kazakhstan.
5 then said, “My friend’s sister is the number one prostitute in all of Kazakhstan.”
I wanted to blurt, “Cool!” but I didn’t know if 5 was serious or not. I held my tongue.
It turned out to be a Borat reference. If I’d recognized it as such, I could have said, “Nice!” and gotten away with it.
The meeting continued, but I couldn’t help but wonder . . .
Then D brought up a hotly contested issue that I had been warned about before the meeting. 4 and 5 did most of the talking. I had a few things to say on the matter, but being the youngest person in the group and also being afraid that I had totally destroyed my standing within the organization kept me from truly weighing in.
Then S cleared the air for me by saying, “Let 2 speak,” and I got to say what I needed to say.
The issue is still contested, but remembering how S did that for me not once but three times towards the end of the meeting meant the world to me.
The thing is that, even after all that, I still hugged a few people before leaving.
One thing that someone brought up is the camaraderie between volunteers. 1 cracked the most jokes during the meeting and elicited the most laughs from the rest of us. The meeting may have been long, but it was also a social experience. We volunteer for the students but also for each other. We come back year after year to see each other’s faces.
These are my people. I may be the baby of the group, but I am one of them. They don’t call me a special snowflake for voicing my opinions. They listen to all sides of an argument. They may not agree, but they’re always respectful when offering rebuttal.
OK boomer is not an attack against an entire generation. It is self-defense against the condescending, belittling, and downright abusive remarks from those who think their way is the only way. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if an older person uses it to deflect an attack from a younger person. There are plenty of boomers out there who are fit to claim the phrase should they ever find themselves needing it.
All that kept me up thinking. Now I’ve dumped what was on my brain onto my computer. The world is a brighter place now, it’s 4AM, and I can go back to sleep.
Next morning note:
There was one lady who talked down to me back in my early days of volunteering, before I had a leadership role. This lady wasn’t in a leadership role within the organization either, so I can’t hold her against the organization, but if I could go back in time for just an instant, I would love to toss “OK boomer” at her.