Just a few minutes ago, I came to the realization that while I will always fight for you, I can’t fight for you anymore. Adrian, I love you, but I can’t emotionally afford to like you. Time and time again, you’ve suffocated me, hanged me, blinded me with red flags and I have ignored them, because I am the type of person that believes people can change and grow and learn from their mistakes, but I realize they must first admit they have made mistakes and want to learn and grow in order to change. You see no faults in yourself, so you will never grow. You will never change. You don’t want to.
And the worst part is, a wiki article about Astro Boy is what brought me to this.
Tonight, when you said you decided to watch the animated movie again, you were only commenting on the animation quality and how you hoped it was still as good as you remembered from when you were younger. I guess it must have come out just a year or two after you immigrated with your parents from Cuba, and Abraham hadn’t been born yet. You were the target demographic. A boy who was still in many ways an outsider to society, learning about his place in the world. You even have a cowlick. You could see yourself in Toby/Astro, and you got to see yourself defeating monsters and punching an alien in the eye with a confident smile. You’re older now, an adult. You’ve got your citizenship at last. You took me along to the ceremony and we cried a few happy tears together.
And then Parkland happened. And it sparked in me what had been heating up since Sandy Hook. I marched. I walked out. I voted. I joined National Die In, and founded Activism On the Road. And every time I spent my energy speaking my mind, you shook your head and rolled your eyes. “Girl, you are too much.” And I let it roll off my shoulder with the threats and anger and spit that flew my way. I brushed it off, because we’re allowed to disagree. I ignored your words and didn’t look into them, because I didn’t have much of a desire to. I figured, you’re just not one of the ones who does what I do. I assumed you’re basically good and just focused on being good from where you’re standing. That was enough for me.
I can see now, from where I’ve marched to, that I was wrong. You’re not basically good, you have no intention to be good, and you have no interest in the goodness of others. Your disinterest is self-interest only. Your shrugs and eye rolls are dangerous pacifism. Your words are stinging my skin, and again, I lie here with a sick feeling in my stomach.
You said, “I’m watching Astro Boy, you should too.”
I told you I was writing and I’d watch it later.
You said, “No, watch it now, catch up so we can talk about it!”
So I hurried through and started the movie.
And I noticed the themes and message immediately.
Polluted earth. The poor and discarded left behind. The wealthy and enabled taken into the sky above in a robot-run mechanically perfect society, featuring a Ministry of Science and brilliant, young mind as the main character. He shows skill in engineering. He reminded me of you, in a way. You’re always tinkering out in your garage. Then they introduce the Villain and Anti-Hero, President Stone and Dr Tenma. Toby is the Doctor’s son, desperately vying for approval and a place in the scientific utopia, not to mention his father’s affection. President Stone wants a scientific innovation to power his military machines to start a war with the poor surface dwellers. Scientists say no, it should be used for environmental clean up to make Earth inhabitable again. Dr Tenma caves to President Stone, saying the scientists are “a little dreamy,” because he wants the military funding. Toby is killed in an accident and the President doesn’t get his way. Tenma rebuilds Toby using the energy source that the scientists told Stone was destroyed. Stone finds out, and hunts down Toby, now called Astro, who has fallen to Earth and met the surface dwellers. A fight between good and evil ensues, bringing the floating tech paradise down to the surface again. The surface dwellers are revealed to the sky dwellers, who had forgotten that life exists below them.
I humorously say that it’s interesting you can enjoy this obviously political movie but hate my work in activism.
And your response?
“You’re crazy. It’s not political, it’s just a movie about a boy destroying a robot. It’s just cool robots. You only see things the way you want to see them and you ruin the fun for the rest of us with your stupid politics.”
My heart sank. My stomach flipped. My eyes began to hurt. And I said goodnight.
Then I googled it.
You’re a child, Adrian. You are still the target demographic. You are the kid who doesn’t get it, but enjoys the big, climactic robot rumpus.
And I am the fool who fought for you.
What do I do now? Go on, pretending I didn’t just fall out of love over a screening of Astro Boy? Carry on with our friendship, whatever’s left of it, ignoring your horrible humor that I’d always excused as typical male nonsense? How am I supposed to sit shotgun with you and not squirm in my skin at the fact that you could never have really loved or appreciated me, because you could only have ever seen me at face value?
You got upset when I went to DC for a day in the Russel Building and to see my friend who’d moved away for college. The idea that I had depth out of your interest range confused you so much you dumped me, and yet I let you keep stringing me along for your pleasure all these months, thinking you’d grow out of it.
I almost let myself see myself the way you do, but that’s over with. I am more than the things I do for you.
I am the things I do for the world, Adrian.
And you are not my world. I could never let myself live somewhere so small.