Sunday, September 4, 2016

Life-Changing Summer, Part Three

I want to note that as I write these cheery posts, the death toll of the summer is sticking with me and I am seriously considering taking anti-depressants for the first time in my life. The best way through still seems to be acknowledging the magic parts, though.

The Room Where it Happens! I was there when Bernie Sanders moved to nominate Hillary Clinton for our FIRST FEMALE MAJOR PARTY NOMINEE! Well, I was outside eating a salad because Amy was having a leg cramp and we couldn’t find a chair inside, but still.

The most moving moment of the convention for me, though, was when the Mothers of the Movement spoke. Their courage puts every single other thing in perspective. To experience the worst loss, the worst injustice, and still have the hope and power to get on stage and fight for change—how do they do it?! The entire convention broke out into a chant of “Black Live Matter.” I couldn’t see the stage from the entrance we were guarding, but I peeked behind the curtain and watched the crowd chant. It was one of the most galvanizing things I’ve experienced. Our country and our party has a long way to go toward being as inclusive, fair, and humane as I’d prefer, but to me that day looked like concrete evidence that progress had been made.
And although, during other parts of the day, I was irritated by the boo-y Bernie delegates, I can’t help but take comfort in the fact that they were chanting for peace, even as we disagreed on the best ways to get peace. When I was fourteen and the first Gulf War started, I ached to have been alive for the peace protests of the Sixties. I’m sure there were protests, but from where I stood it was flags and yellow ribbons as far as the eye could see. I wore a white ribbon for peace and refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance at school, cried when I was called anti-American. My mom was so awesome because she marched through the suburban streets with me, two of my friends, and a boombox playing Beatles songs. My friend Lynn even knocked on a few doors. Now, in 2016, delegates are chanting for peace and I can join a march every day if I wanted to. So much better than my teenage dream of the 60s.

My Brother’s Wedding: I thought it might be sad to go to a wedding with my ex-wife as my plus-one, but this was an unequivocally joyful day, an oasis of beauty and peace that showed me just how far my family has come. Plus, this happened:

The Disarm Hate Rally: It seemed pretty crazy to drive down to D.C. in the middle of a heat wave. It was one. Billion. Degrees. on August 13, but I thought it was important to have a positive catharsis about the truly alarming parts of the summer, so we packed up all of the water and went.

As we walked across the field near the Lincoln Memorial, it felt like crossing the dessert. A few people were standing in front of the stage and many others huddling in cooling tents. A couple of handsome young men came over and gave us Hillary stickers. Code Pink was there being right about gun control and super-bummer-youth-voter-suppression-wrong about the election. (It’s a weird year when I feel at odds with Code Pink.)

It seemed like synchronicity that a group of teenage poets from my neighborhood spoke just after we arrived. The family next to us had rainbow signs quoting The Lorax:

I was given a sign to wear that said this:

And I’m doing my best to believe it.

We met Gays Against Guns and signed a poster to Orlando from the Newtown Alliance. Pro-gun control groups have been such a source of inspiration and strength for me this summer, and I hope to work more closely with them in the coming years.

After wards, we walked to the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King memorial:

I thought a lot about why these edifices are there. What we are really trying to accomplish as a nation, what America is truly supposed to be—I don’t know. If, as Lin-Manuel Miranda would have us believe, history has its eyes on us, how are we doing?

Pokémon Go: It saved my life. No really. At the beginning of the summer, I was afraid to cross the street. The world was full of bloodthirsty cars and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get back to my usual taking-long-walks self. But then the Pokéstops went in and I forgot to be scared. Since the day I was hit by a car, people have not-so-helpfully reminded me to be careful crossing the street, but I had more than enough (maybe way too much) vigilance in my life BEFORE the accident—I wasn’t interested in forming new fear-patterns in my brain. Collecting Pokémons tricked the fear into not becoming permanent, and it got me moving again. Plus, there are few things more happy-making than strolling down to the neighborhood gym and chitchatting with strangers about really ridiculous things. The perfect counterpoint to a way-too serious life.

Now the air smells like turning leaves and the morning glories are blooming. I can feel my body relaxing into fall, ready for kids and mums and art projects and WINNING THE DAMN ELECTION already. Thanks, life-changing summer—I hope to keep planting those seeds.

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