You know one of the bastardly things - one of bastardly many, of course - about the sort of tragedy rolling out at work? It's the sudden necessity of giving a fuck about what other people think and feel. We Anglos live in a painfully individualistic age, I know that, and I also have some awareness I'm sheltered from the worst aspects of that individualism because of the nature of my family, but nonetheless: you know why we got all individualistic as a society? Because it is great. It is really, really nice to not have to give a fuck about what other people think and feel.
The most apparent proof of this probably comes in terms of sexism, racism, not-liking-gayism, and religious bigotry. Are Anglos fundamentally a great deal less sexist than they were 40 years ago? Maybe, but they're certainly not proportionately less sexist to the much huger degree of social freedom I have as a woman relative to what my mum had: now I live in a culture that values the individual above all else so I can safely and reasonably not give a fuck if people like how I used to whore around, or how I presently live in sin with my dear F-word, and how I'm planning to have bastard children because I'm moving back to a common-law country at the end of the year (thank fuck; all this civil law shit it not nearly individualistic enough for me).
And you know what? Maybe it means I don't say hi to the people in my apartment building (but I do, of course, because some of them are German, and the Germans seem to have found some sort of magical middle ground between individualism and social community) or participate in any fucking village festivals and I'll have to live in an institution when I'm decrepid, but fine. Fine. I will take the fucking social isolation, and the freedom. Please and fucking thank you. And I understand that it works on the flip side of the coin too: I understand that I can sincerely believe Baptists, for example, are fucking insane, and also that they are highly unlikely to give a fuck that I think they're insane, and that's fine.
A strong proof individualism is great is how shitty things are when it becomes untenable, as in the present situation, where grief and worry gives a disparate group of people far too much in common to not become some sort of community, and to be forced, essentially, to give a shit about each other's stupid fucking opinions and feelings.
I've been hitting a bit of a watershed in the mourning process lately, I think - you know, that Hallmark moment when you realize the horrible pain of losing someone is nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to the great joy you had in knowing them. And since then I must say it's been nothing but shit. As if after you traverse the watershed, suddenly you're mentally recovered enough for all the Kafkaesque brutality of the bureaucracy surrounding someone's disappearance to start punching you in the fucking face, hence last Monday's utter breakdown.
On top of that, now there's this mini-row between the people close to M here over one of his friends circulating pictures from his laptop from a trip to a sunny clime in Europe a couple of years ago, in the company of an olive-skinned man. Dark olive. Kalamata, even. As it happens, Mr. Kalamata is a high-level executive at our company, and the trip to the sunny clime was a business trip - I was there too - and Mr. Kalamata is well known to all of M's friends, except the one who circulated the photos, breathlessly asking 'who dat?' The first conclusion I jumped to, of course, was that (as I know for a fact that M's computer is full of photos of strange men) his friend had seized on the only two showing somebody who looked Arab and hence suspect and that it was the sort of bullshit European open unquestioning unquestioned racism I'm so fucking sick of. I understand Canadians are also racist, and I've got the drift that Australians are SUPERFUCKING racist, but at least Canadian racism is closeted whenever the Canadian in question isn't drunk (and then, whoa boy. Seriously, try getting white men of a certain age in Canada drunk and talking about the First Nations people. Your hair will fucking curl. And a good way to get them going is by calling them 'First Nations' instead of 'Indians'), because we are all so individualistic and we realize that other people don't give a good goddamn about our stupid fucking racist opinions. Whereas Europeans are still fairly united as a community in their Arabs-as-paranoid-object so they don't feel like they have to keep it to themselves.
Anyways, as a fucking Canadian individual I forebore from subjecting everybody, indeed anybody, to my stupid fucking opinion about how goddamn racist this friend of M's was being, and simply wrote - he works here, I was there that weekend.
You know who else forebore from subjecting everybody to their stupid fucking opinions? Fucking nobody. Now it's all blah blah bla 'follow every lead', as if every fucking olive-skinned guy who'd ever shared M's temporal and physical space within the last two years is a fucking lead, or else 'fucking racists'. And you know what, I do think it was racist, and I don't want to fucking care. What would caring do? Europeans aren't going to stop being racist, and who the fuck gives a fuck about 'following leads' involving strange olive men on a laptop on one continent when nobody has as yet told the investigating authorities in a different continent that maybe men might be pertinent to the investigation of M's disappearance in a way they wouldn't be for 90% of the male population?
It was that second factor, the non-disclosure, which I've alluded to before, that made me decide I would do whatever I could to avoid this community of the bereaved. In that case I had to speak forcefully before I tried to scarper because I thought there was a chance it could help. The problem has been not being able to scarper, not being able to get away from this community; I haven't been able to prevent myself from putting myself way out there for his family, for his other colleagues, and him being an expatriate, this has also meant his friends, because I miss him and running around like a fucking chicken with her head cut off in an effort to tie up loose ends seems like a reasonable substitute for a funeral in terms of honouring M's memory. The intense homophobia of the situation hasn't left me unscathed at all and has put an end to at least one friendship that probably would have been enduring if this sort of tragedy hadn't challenged it. And great, now we all have to give a fuck about how racist/PC we all are or aren't.