march 2004 - take 8
I had lost my mind momentarily while planning this trip & speaking w/my ultra-conservative, right-wing, still bush-loving, fundamentalist sister – I actually invited her to accompany me to the women’s rights march in d.c. and then travel thru the outer banks of north Carolina & to Atlanta w/me to visit my daughter. my thinly disguised motive was to get her to the march in d.c., which over the internet, she readily agreed to. when it came time to pick her up in n.j. and head south, she had changed her mind – probably someone in her catholic group that pressures young and old wimmin alike into birthing their unwanted babies under the guise of protecting the fetus, informed her about the true evil intent of the march – a womon’s right to chose. she did end up traveling w/me after the march tho.
the first couple of days we drove to the coastline thru new jersey, Maryland & Delaware, catching ferries and traversing wonderful bridges that span amazingly beautiful stretches of bay and ocean. we even stayed at a hotel in room overlooking the flat, white sand beach & atlantic ocean, experiencing the sun rising over the expansive sea (a wonderful treat for a pacific coast womon!), & indulged in blue baby crabs & spicey shrimp the chesapeake bay is famous for!! all along the way, folks vehemently opposed bush & his policies & were so very outspoken about it to us. I was beginning to feel bad for my sister, thinking she must feel so isolated & attacked – and thoroughly shamed, for these people made so much sense! every person who came to speak w/me, assuming she was also progressive – wrong – repeated the same litany, the things we all bluntly say when surrounded by like minds – ‘what kind of blind, foolish idiot can support bush – especially now when even the mass media is reporting his lies & deceptions?’ on occasion I’d feel myself cringing for her – how could she not take it personally, especially the stupidity & greed parts – and she is certainly the person we were speaking of. by the third day on the road and about the 23rd encounter that day with such a variety of u.s. citizens from the hotel personnel to tourist on the ferries, truck & bus drivers, even to folks in new cars w/fish stuck on the back – I was beginning to consider if I should check in w/how she was feeling. then she just had to open her mouth:
‘just because that Christian car gave you the peace symbol, the I love you symbol, and practically fell out of the car to encourage your work for peace, doesn’t mean they don’t like bush. they probably support bush & peace.’
‘just because those fellows were dressed in full military uniforms from combat boots to hats w/shaved heads (in humid 100 degree yucky southern weather) & little colorful pins above embroidered names over their shirt pockets, doesn’t mean they’re real military & against bush. lot’s of people dress up like military when they’re not.’
‘oh look, even tho that new suv filled w/white folks dripping rich (those last 2 words my embellishment) gave you the finger – they shouldn’t’ve done that naughty thing - but then they gave you the ‘I love you’ symbol’ – yeah, right – the 2 outer fingers pointed at me w/the thumb tucked under – the warding off the evil eye symbol.
how does one who travels in a truck filled w/compassionate & passionate progressive messages & hope outside & in, deal with this ignorance sidling across the passenger’s side of the bench seat? well, first of all, all previous empathy vanishes, especially after I check out how she’s been feeling about the things people have been saying not just about g.w. but more about the u.s. citizens who are supporting him. she gives me a blank stare as if she hasn’t (still) become aware of the opposition to bush & to herself. apparently she’s only heard these lovely Christians who’ve just passed & certainly have reinforced her position.
I wish I could say I was able to handle my sister’s blatant ignorance as successfully as I think I do truck drivers – wrong – or at the very least rich, fat, old white preachers! I ended up screaming at the top of my lungs, pounding the steering wheel uncontrollably, feeling my heart clench & hearing rapid, loud roarings emanating not from the ocean but from somewhere deep inside of me. by the time I get to my daughter’s, I’m knowing again what a rag wrung w/a deep ache feels like. and I’m asking myself over & over why? why? why? not the why you might think but the what kind of fool am I & why the hell had a lost my mind & invited this womon who was supposedly related to me by some huge, distant accident whom I used to know & fiercely love the first 16 or so years of my life. the same womon I was feeling sorry for days earlier.
before I lost it, we had taken a very pleasant drive thru the outer banks – I actually had a delivery to make. I was slightly apprehensive as we drove thru Virginia beach where I met a 13 year old white boy who knew that global warming was a liberal conspiracy. when I asked him why would the liberals want to make up such a thing he responded ‘why to keep businesses from making money’. when I asked which business could that be, he said, why of course republican businesses.
just south of Virginia beach is the home of camp pendelton. and then all up & down north Carolina there are several military bases so I was prepared for a not=so=warm welcome. & I thought my sister might find some support back when I thought support might be necessary – I was happy w/the luke-warm response in the military towns from the bush supporters but I was estatic w/the joy the peace proponents greeted me. people often turned their vehicles around, tracked me down inside bookstores, coffeeshops, gas stations to seek me out & tell me how much hope my truck brought them. in south carolina, a womon actually dragged me off to her weekly wimmin’s peace group meeting. it was such a joy to meet these wimmin who, not just in the middle of military country but also because several had sons who either were presently in the service or were about to be or were at some point. they told me about their struggles w/getting permits to do peace marches – they had one earlier prior to the official start of the bombing that they thought was successful. they attempted to get a permit for another recently & were denied – well not blatantly denied, but patronizingly, the officials wouldn’t grant them one on the grounds that they couldn’t provide protection for that many people – macho & scare tactics at work big time. I’ve promised them I’ll come back before the election & march w/them.
we found an organic coffee shop – for joy for joi – w/internet access. as I attempted to connect w/folks, a white womon who was probably in her 40’s but looked closer to 60, her voice trembling, her hands shaking, a belligerence wafting approached me, verified that it was my truck out front, and proceeded to say her son was presently in iraq. I grasped her hand, told her how sorry I was, & invited her to sit down & talk w/me. she did. her hostility waned as we spoke. she told me how proud she was of her son, how he was defending the country, how none of her family were cowards, & she was teaching her grandchildren to fight for America.
as we spoke, she painted a bleak picture of her son – he was a problem child, kicked out of school after school after school for fighting, for violence, for uncontrollable anger. she was even told by one high school principal, she should be afraid for her physical safety. the schools didn’t want him, the city didn’t want him, she wasn’t supposed to want him, but the marines sure did want him – he was perfect for them. he served in Afghanistan first, and now iraq. he will probably re-up when the time comes.
she painted an even bleaker picture of her life – she took care of a father who was wounded in world war two until he died; then her husband, a Vietnam war vet batterer who fathered her children, who ended up an invalid from his injuries & was dying; while raising 3 children and now 2 grandchildren.
to be continued:
old womon – fist
pictures while driving
bush rules – rules what?