I wake early, after 4 hours of sleep and prepare myself for continuing my journey.
I have filled up several bottles of water that sit next to me with a bag of
snacks, left-over dim sum, my travel mug still full of luke warm coffee, and my book on tape lined up
and ready to continue read– i could drive forever!
There is a surprising amount of traffic - not like Livermore of course – but I welcome it: I paint my truck for these messages to be
seen – and they are seen. Some folks shake their heads in wonderment or bafflement;
one white fellow gives me the finger as several others twist in their seats to
flash a big smile and peace symbol.
I get so engrossed in my book I barely notice the
needle on the heat gauge creeping over the center mark as morning morphs into afternoon. I’m glad I drove out of the desert in the
early morning – out of desert and into the Arizona mountains.
I climb up to over 7000 feet – very slowly, eye now glued to my
heat gauge. My ankles are swelling – besides being so engrossed in reading,
I’ve been munching on pretzels which have so much salt – bad combo for my poor
The lovely rest stop outside of the grand canyon and
flagstaff is closed, much to my disappointment so I have to stop at a pilot gas
station. I snatch a parking space in front of macdonalds, mindful but ignoring the stares and stage whispers all around me.
I hear a womon ask me “rise womyn what?” as she attempts to
read my shirt. I’m startled between the land of the book I am reading where the
character is a reclusive white woman so old she has to die her wild hair the red of
her youth and here, stepping into real life time, is the character.
I attempt to shake myself completely out of the story – although the
despair and grief of this red-headed womon character still hang around me – and resist rubbing my eyes as I gape stupidly at this slight, elderly yet spry character leaning against the MacDonald's wall, cigarette in wrinkled hand, trying to speak with me, not on cd through ear phones in the cab of my truck, but in real time.
She contemplates and then nods sanguinely, agreeing we must rise.
I talk w/her about Julia Ward Howe and her 1870 call for womyn to
take over. She stares at me, as if hearing words for the first time, then continues to nod solemnly as she states maybe that is what it will take.
Then to my dread she makes a thinly veiled racist attack on Obama. "We gotta first get rid of
them that's in the white house." she declares, slyly looking at me altho she has turned her face and the shoulder where the cigarette is dangling from her hand, slightly away, as if she is trying to hide her covert studying my reaction.
"Them that's in the white house"? Her white Arkansas accent, laced with a cigarette growl, noticeably thickens as I attempt to figure out how to challenge her racism while steering the conversation back to common ground.
She must see something in my breath as she adds immediately with as much denial as she can muster, that it has nothing to do with race. I say
sure it does but she continues to deny her hatred is based on race.
I reflect on my conversation with Carole in Whole Foods the day before I left and try to channel her, my hero and mentor. We had the conversation about Obama's faults - we knew them down to the most recent piece of legislation he's signed or vetoed - but this woman knows nothing: except she hates a Black man being president, a Black man holding the highest office of this country, a Black man being the most influential man in our world.
I notice several men in military
uniforms sitting inside MacDonalds and I’m shocked again –I don’t remember such a military presence
growing up, not even in nyc where we went monthly - by everyone's acceptance, everyone continuing their lives oblivious of the violent aggressive strangers hanging around like just another potted plant.
My live character spits "he's a liar" and I say, what's so different about any politician. She looks a little chagrined when I mention Nixon, she mentions Clinton, and then I ask her what has Obama lied about?
I personally think he's been pretty truthful, if one is listening carefully, sifting thru double speak and all that, especially in his pre-election campaign speech about taking our troops out of Iraq and putting them into Afghanistan. Of course he did say he's going to shut down Guantanamo but he's claiming Congress has his hands tied - which we all know is a lie.
She is saved from answering me as the glass door swings open and out comes a huge old white man, arms laden with MacDonalds packages, wearing some kind PETA shirt that barely covers his 20 month bulge for a stomach.
She immediately trots after him as she flings over her shoulder "nice talking with you".