The nature of elections is that there is a winner and a loser. Someone has to win and sometimes one (or many) people have to lose. And the nature of American presidency is that after two terms, the president must transition his or her office to the winner of the next election.
That’s the way it works. But it’s not just the nature of elections, it’s the nature of nature too. One season must pass on to the next.
We have had a summer like no other. A long summer that gave us cool beach breezes, glorious sun-drenched October weekends, and tremendous progress–gay marriage, greater access to healthcare, much needed attention paid to sexual assault on campuses and the enduring effects of discrimination and bias. Wages began to rise and equal pay was, at least, considered. This summer we saw two terms of a brown-skinned president who made my children laugh with his easy smile and left me in awe of his civility and steady hand during turbulent times.
The season brought the end of a century long drought to the Chicago Cubs and increased visibility and acceptance for people who previously lived frightened or shamed into the shadows, afraid to let the sun kiss their faces or for their stories to be heard. This summer, this long summer, their faces shone and their stories made many of us see life in a different way.
My three children will always be children of summer, children of this particularly spectacular summer. They understand that we are all different in so many ways but equally deserving of love and fairness and respect and justice.
The nature of nature is that summer must end, but also that summer will return. What remains of fall is to be seen. The winter with its stinging winds may be long or short…hopefully it won’t last 108 years. But no matter what summer will be back, just as it always is. And I can’t wait to see the sun again.
Until then, I’m going to huddle for warmth with the ones that I love and think the warmest thoughts I can muster about those that chose anger and fear.
Mommy, what’s a gun?
My five year old asked this question after I demonstrated how our sweet 13 year old puppy can still recall the tricks she learned from the kids who regularly played on the porch of our Baltimore row house. The porch was large and had a huge glass window looking into our living room. Our dog, then only a few months old, would sit in the window and watch the world go by. Sometimes the world stopped to play with her–the world in the form of 3 or 4 boys whose ages were between 5 and 8, as far as I could tell.
The boys would hang out on the porch and talk to her through the window. Sometimes I was home, and would go outside and offer drinks and snacks. They were sweet kids, never caused any trouble and always said thank you. They giggled a lot. And they knew something about guns.
They taught our dog to roll on to her back and play dead when someone made a shooting a motion with their hand. Bang, bang. She’d drop, tongue hanging out to the side, eyes bright and waiting for praise. It was only mildly unsettling and mostly cute. I thought it quite amazing that they could teach her though the window. I thought that it is was only appropriate that my dog would learn such a thing in Baltimore.
Now, there are no kids hanging out on my porch, except for my own. They are 6, 5 and 2. They don’t watch the news and we try to prevent them from watching television shows or movies with any sort of, even comical, gun violence. Yet they live in a house with guns, with a father who is in law enforcement. Still, they haven’t really seen a gun. Ever. You see, it’s entirely possible to believe in the need for stronger gun laws and own a gun. Life…and politics…they aren’t so black and white. Continue reading
Not long ago, I drove past the first house we bought together. A Victorian row house at the top of an inclined street, in a neighborhood more inclined to wrong than right. Two blocks in any direction and the neighborhood was completely different, far better or far worse. Baltimore is a funny city that way. It’s an old city, lovely in all the ways old places are lovely. With grand national history and not-so-grand personal stories behind every centuries-old brick wall and cobblestone paver. It sometimes felt like such a sad place, with more loss and hurt than feels possible for a place so small.
Still, I love that city and miss its markets, and row houses, painted screens and Old Bay scented air. I miss our friends. And I miss that house. I miss the way it sounded.
I never really liked quiet. Noise means life, people around to talk to, to comfort you, to protect you. Quiet always seemed scary to me. Quiet meant alone. Alone could be terrifying.
After I got married, there was much debate about sleeping with the television on. I needed the television, I thought. I needed the noise to help me drift off to sleep. And some noise is helpful for that purpose. My kids use sound machines, largely to block out the noises of the world beyond their doors. Creaky old floors, dogs barking, parents engaged in heated discourse about the appropriate reaches of the 4th Amendment and the intended messages in Taylor Swift’s new single [I think its transparent, he credits her with more depth], and the thunderous, predawn grind of coffee beans. Continue reading