Others, elsewhere

Barnegat Light is not Parkland Florida, Brant Beach is not Virginia Tech, Beach Haven is not Uvalde Texas, and North Beach is not Newtown Connecticut…it’s always other people, somewhere else, according to the people in my neighborhood here at the Jersey Shore. I live in an area of south Jersey that is one of the “reddest” in a blue state. I am a blue woman from a red family in a red town in a red county in a blue state…it’s not easy to find your tribe in this sort of situation. In the area where I live there are numerous trucks that have “We the people” stickers on the back window, and maga flags hanging off a pole on the tailgate and I see too many nra and “freedom” bumper stickers on vehicles in the parking lots of the stores where I shop…the thing that makes me chuckle, but also feel gobsmacked with disbelief, is that I am willing to bet if I were to interview EVERY single person who drives one of these vehicles, the number of them who know the words that come AFTER “we the people” would be very small. I suspect that the ones with the nra stickers are neither constitutional scholars nor do they know the words that make up the second amendment or the historical intention of said amendment. These last days have felt hard and felt heavy…for me, an other, elsewhere…I can’t even imagine for one moment the devastation I might feel if I was one of them, there…

I think some of these people are so woefully misinformed about so much that they think it somehow makes them look more patriotic to have these stickers and flags and hats…I can tell you I love that I was born in the United States of America. I can also tell you that we are not very united and that makes me sad. There is not much recognition of a “greater good,” a “for the people” mindset…there is them, and there is us. That does not look like the kind of “United” states that I once felt so proud to live in. Do their stickers and flags and banners make them think that it “shows” people that they care about this country more than I do? Does voting for people who continue to NOT be concerned about the greater good, the majority of the people, seem patriotic to you??????? It certainly seems not to me, an other, elsewhere…

People who hunt for food and use guns to do so should want only other responsible people to have access to guns. People who work in law enforcement and carry guns should want only other responsible people to have access to guns. People who shoot guns for sporting should want only other responsible people to have access to guns. Yes, yes, yes…tell me about how criminals can still get, and will get guns, even if we make guns harder to get, yes, that is true, a criminal might always be able to still find a gun to buy illegally or to steal, but WHAT IS THE HARM IN MAKING LAWS THAT MAKE GUNS HARDER TO GET IN THE FIRST PLACE IF IT KEEPS ONE WRONG PERSON FROM GETTING ACCESS TO A WEAPON AND KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE??????? Common sense gun reform seems like basic common sense and most of the rest of the planet has modeled systems that seem to work for the most part. Most people who live in the “United States of America” think that there should be some changes in how easy it is in some places to buy guns. Period.

I feel pretty sure that any of these local people in my area who shoot guns for sport or hunting, or who are so fearful of “others” that they feel they need them for protection, well I feel rather confident that even with background checks, common sense would tell you that a person who wants to have a gun ought to at the very least have a background check, most of them, indeed probably a huge majority, would still be permitted to purchase and own a gun and they should want that for other people too!!! It is so basic to me that it’s embarrassing to even write it…when I applied to work as a substitute teacher in two local school systems in my area back in the 1990’s the number of hoops I had to jump through and the depth of the background check, to make $75 a day and work at a school, was shocking…to purchase and then own a gun that can kill, in minutes, all of the children in one of the classrooms I was tending, ought to have the same rigorous background checks as I had to go through to be there to try to protect them, no??!! Someday it might not be others, elsewhere, it might be your grandchild, here.

The truth of a tumbleweed

I recently read an interview with Alan Cumming where he talked about how, when he was in the southwest and watched tumbleweeds tumbling by it made him think about how life is like that, like a tumbleweed, and how we pick up bits and pieces of experiences, of the people and the places we see, and carry them around forever…It made me think of how we keep adding to our tumbleweeds as we grow older. We pick up debris from bad relationships, bad jobs, accidents or tragedies, and it piles right up next to the joyful laughter, the excited and upbeat life events, the successes and the good fortune, all together in a tangle that we call our life.

I think if we were to take apart the tumbleweed that is our story, unravel the knot, we would all find some beauty and some beast; no one, at least I am pretty sure no one is, is immune to bad things, we all have had some terrible experience at one time or another…I know people who have suffered childhood abuse, I know people who have suffered accidents, deaths of loved ones, unimaginable recoveries both the mental and the physical, seemingly insurmountable obstacles that somehow they overcame and grew into adults and all of those things are part of their life story…all of those bad things are jammed right next to births of healthy beautiful babies, first homes, fantastic job opportunities, deeply meaningful friendships…REALLY really good stuff rolled around with the REALLY really icky stuff. All in a tumbleweed of who they are. You can’t take yourself out of the equation of what adds up to what has become your life.

The thing about a tumbleweed is that you can’t really see what’s deep inside unless you dissect it. They are jam packed with everything that has gathered up inside of them along the way. Much like the prettiest house that might be on your street, but the inside looks like some kind of insane chaos from Grey Gardens, or the Hollywood beautiful couple whose Instagram is filled with beautiful clothes and meals and trips, but neither of them likes the other and they are bewildered with what happened to their lives, to their plans, to them…The outside is not indicative of the inside. The depths of our tumbleweeds, the core, is really what makes us “US” when you think about it. Our most authentic selves are wrapped up with the deepest parts of our experiences and our pasts. Both the good and the not good events are the basis of who we are, no matter how we might try to run from some of them over the decades of our lives.

I am definitely feeling that I am at a chapter of my life where I have no interest in trying to decipher WHY I think like I do, or WHY things matter to me, I just know what sits right with me, what I think is right and wrong with the world and the people in it and I try to live in a way that does not assault my own soul. I like to lie on my pillow at night and know that I have lived well and cared well and feel at peace with who I am, how I think, and how I interact with those around me. My tumbleweed is filled with knots and clusters of things that happened in my life that have made me think like I do and I don’t really care about the “why” of any of it anymore, I just know what feels “off” to me and what doesn’t and I will go forth with that, doing and thinking what sits right with my spirit, what makes me shine and shimmer, and boy anybody who knows me knows I love the sparkles and the glitters of life, and what feels dull to me, and makes me dreary, or makes me feel clouded, well, it’s a hard ‘no’ now…I’ll pass if I don’t think it will feel good to my mind or my body. This vessel, this tumbleweed, is the only one I have and I want it to last me a while longer, so I will tend to it as best I can. It may just be a weed, but even weeds often have pretty flowers.