A whole life of making minimal demands, of keeping to myself, of doing all my chores promptly and well, of getting superlative grades, of being a star in band, of being a dutiful student of the piano, of having good and well-behaved friends, of working ever since I was old enough to drive — that all meant nothing. Being good hadn’t preserved me from random interrogations, in fact made me more vulnerable — I bought into their standard of judgment and tried to defend myself according to it, once even breaking down in tears, a seventeen-year-old kid, breaking down into incoherence, collapsing into a fetal position, and she just walked away. Even now, if something ever comes up in conversation, she acts like she doesn’t remember, like it was someone else entirely — she apologizes on behalf of this other person, over-eagerly, like she’s apologizing for some weird misunderstanding that she can’t fully assimilate.
Dave Brubeck and Heidegger. Adam Kotsko tells a short cliched-sounding tale — growing up with parents who don’t understand you — that he elevates into a moving memoir. I’m glad to have been quite a bit more fortunate.