lovely in her bones

22 Jun

I know a woman who is unashamed to ask for help– for babysitting, for studio space to write, for help packing up her house for a move. It seems like a semi-regular occurrence for her post something on facebook asking for some kind of help. And when I see these notices, I have to admit that it gives me a weirdly unsettled feeling.

It shouldn’t. I grew up in a culture that at least gave lip service to the idea of valuing community, and the way that we could all work together. HRC’s whole thing about a village raising a child is a punchline for a lot of my friends from the nineties because we all believed it, on some level of other. That’s the dream, in our daily lives, and certainly the promise of something like facebook or other social media. It’s not only about Tahrir Square, but also about childcare, or at least it should be.

But still, it makes me a little nervous when I see it– maybe because it feels like this woman is exposing her values in some way that is a little too revealing– that she’s willing to say that I’d rather be doing one thing more than the other, maybe. Or maybe there’s something even more primal there, this admission that she can’t do it all.

Whatever it is, it pisses off my wife and her female friends. They just can’t stand it. (I should add that this woman hasn’t exactly been a good member of some of the communities she’s been in that overlap with some of my wife’s communities). They will talk about it to each other, to me, and they will shake their heads with scorn at anyone who does come through for this woman and help her out. Dupes, they practically shout, why would you help out her?

It’s a puzzle. Why do you help out someone? What does it take to make you ask for help, and when is it better to just make the sacrifices your life demands than to ask for help, to get the more you know is out there.

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