Travels with Fang, Day 2:
I always like to start with a complaint, so here you go: The bathtub floor in our room at the TownPlace Suites is slippery as polished glass. No sticky strips or hand rails, just the assumption that every guest will have a mountain goat’s uncanny sense of balance. This old fart damn near took a header cleaning up for dinner tonight.
So, a double-dumbass on you, TownSuites. Somebody’s gonna break their neck and take your corporation to the cleaners. And I will feel validated. Hell, I still have to take another shower tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be the lucky quadriplegic.
Otherwise, it’s weird. I don’t feel like myself tonight, and believe me, that is a good thing.
Registered The Boy for preschool today. Managed to rub the school administrator the wrong way, hope he doesn’t take it out on my kid. And seriously, I was on my best behavior. Some people you just can’t satisfy.
Then we went to check out the Anne Frank memorial across the street from campus.
See, Idaho has all kinds of angry, well-armed white supremacist types up north, so somebody with money to burn built a little tolerance park, for lack of a better description. It’s got all kind of slabs of concrete with excerpts from Anne Frank’s diary inscribed on them, as well as various similar sentiments by other noteworthy historical figures.
One of the inscriptions that moved me most was by Sojourner Truth. I had never heard it before. The quote in the park read as follows:
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Anyhow, the whole affair left me extremely emotionally drained. I did not find the park even remotely uplifting. Its intentions notwithstanding, it seemed like a memorial to man’s inhumanity against man. Tell me something I don’t know, right?
The next few hours I was one depressed Bastardson. On the way to dinner with The Missus’ Twitter friend and her husband (whom I actually liked, both of them!) I told my wife that I expected my last words would be, “Man, am I glad that’s over.”
Red Flag on the play!
But somehow over the course of the next few hours, something clicked over inside me. Even though this stupid state doesn’t get dark till after 10—for which I will never forgive it—and the fact that its legislature is actively anti-gay rights and politically conservative in all the ways that piss me off the most… for some reason, I feel comfortable. At ease.
My job situation is still extremely up in the air and the move promises to do very bad things to my back, but sometime today I got comfortable with the idea of living here.
I think I may finally be ready to follow some excellent advice I received years ago from my long-time spiritual advisor, which was, “Fang, you don’t have to be dragged through life kicking and screaming.”
I know it sounds simple, but it runs counter to every instinct that has kept me alive up to this point. At the time, I recognized its veracity but it didn’t fit in with my lifestyle. I didn’t think I’d ever be in a place to implement it—emotionally, psychologically or physically.
But here I am in Boise, Idaho, feeling at peace for the first time in I really couldn’t even begin to guess how long.
I think maybe part of it is the prospect of marching in a gay rights rally tomorrow before we fly home. Living on Christmas Island, all this equal rights shit has long been settled, or is well on its way to being ironed out. We don’t have rallies and protests anymore, just celebrations and paid days off work (thank you, Cesar Chavez!).
On the other hand, Idaho, for instance, doesn’t even have a Martin Luther King Day; rather they call it “Idaho Human Rights Day.”
Unless, of course, you happen to be a gay human Idahoan. Then you’re on your own.
I think I’m stoked that in this new land, I will finally have a opponent as formidable as my own self-loathing to rail against. Turn some of my bottomless well of righteous indignation away from (however well-earned) self-criticism and toward an even more deserving target.
I also like the fact that on the drive back from dinner, we drove through a residential neighborhood where I saw a little girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, walking alone down the sidewalk. As culturally advanced as Christmas Island considers itself, nobody in their right mind would let their little girl walk home unaccompanied there as dusk was falling.
And in the end, that’s what it’s all about. I’m excited at the prospect of raising our son in a town with neighborhoods safe enough that a little kid out walking alone as night is a commonplace event. I've always loved Norman Rockwell paintings.
Civil rights battles to negotiate and a safe place to raise my kid... This old hippie dad couldn’t ask for anything more.