January 29th, 2017 § § permalink
You know that phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I?”
Its something one might say to invoke humility in the face of their own good fortune, or to express identification and unity with the struggle of another.
Yesterday the first headline I read began, ”Refugees, Visa and Green Card Holders Detained, Turned Away…”. I sat upright and my heart pounded in my chest. You see, my husband is a green card holder (he’s actually my Permanent Resident Alien Spouse, to be exact) and we are currently in what we hope will be the final stage of the process.
Until we reach that promised land of a 10-year green card, allowing supposed free movement in and out of my country, his residency and immigration status informs every aspect of our lives together. Where we go, how we work, when we visit family, and how we plan for our future. The thought that the rules we have been so diligently following would somehow and suddenly be thrown up in the air put my heart in my throat.
Then I read further, and saw the changes were affecting travelers only from Muslim countries. My heart promptly returned to my chest. My husband is from Italy.
That quick moment of relief affirms for me that what divides us is bigotry and racism, social constructs that have no tangible basis, yet have deep influence in our history, society and individual behavior. I can insist all day long that I am not biased against Muslims, but that moment of relief would be no less real. My privilege would allow me to leave it at that, accept our own good fortune and move along.
After the courthouse, with Alien Spouse.
When we got married in a small town courthouse in rural GA, the clerk doing our marriage license heard F’s accent, saw his foreign birth certificate and filled in his race as “Other”. F thought this was fantastic. I thought it was sort of an Alpha-Omega moment, where our national pastime of keeping everyone neatly sorted turned a white European male into The Other. We had become completely estranged from the source material of our racist thinking. The center could not hold.
So this morning I intentionally rewind to that heart sinking feeling that came before the momentary relief. Because there but for the grace of God go we.
January 21st, 2017 § § permalink
Oh how I hope this message reaches you, dear reader.
If I am being hyperbolic, hormonal, hysterical, so what; if I should be locked in the tower, I simply don’t care. Today’s global mobilization of women and girls, and the cisters, sisters, and men who love us has sent my heart on a wide boomerang arc – out… and back. What a week, amirite?
In my “old life” I would have hopped a train with friends and been in the center of one the largest and coziest of herds. What is a modern nomad to do when you get that homing mechanism that moves your feet on the FL/GA line?
You march around by yourself, is what! Then you go to a coffee shop and kill time until the next idea comes to you.
A group of older-than-me ladies asked if I was waiting for a friend, and I responded, “I think I am waiting for you!” We then invited each other to a bigger table, and I pointed out a pair of younger girls wearing 1920-2020 protest pins, and said, “Hey I think you are with us too.” All the sudden we had ourselves an intergenerational feminist quorum.
It is weird to sit down with strangers, but just think about what we have in common. We all left the house today with the intent to be on the right side of history on this historic day.
My intention for the next few days is to stick with this mind set – to assume that the people I encounter have something more in common with me at the core than different. We are women today, but tomorrow what will it be?
We are pro-love? We are daughters? We are environmentalists? We are neighbors? We are in line at Parkers?
January 7th, 2017 § § permalink
Many people ask me privately how we are living on a boat full time in terms of work and finances. The answer is we are completely lucky and we work hard.
The first thing I will acknowledge is that there are many things beyond our control that make this possible, first and foremost of which are our families that we know would catch us if the boat sank. The practical and psychological effect of having supportive parents and siblings is emboldening for sure. Sailing is a lot about calculating risk, all risks are mitigated at their most extreme end by present and loving kin.
That is part of the luck. The other part of the luck is that we really try to put ourselves in luck’s way. Luck does not come and wake you up in the morning, tell you to get out of bed, put on your shoes or turn your mouth corners up into a smile. You really can’t tell where luck might be, but it usually involves a fair amount of effort and interconnectedness.
Now to the part where we work hard. We work hard every day to live more and more simply. Have fewer expenses, fewer things that break, better health and stronger minds. We work hard to be good to our friends and family, and to be open and sweet to new people. To feed luck.
Right now, luck has brought us a temp job aboard a luxury yacht back up north, where I wear booties inside to not mess up the teak or carpet as I polish things and help the chef. Fabio tromps around on deck shoveling snow and readying the boat for departure to warmer climes. We miss our tiny floating home, but are really enjoying the experience, and savoring the feeling of recharging the bank account, especially knowing how far we can take each penny with our stripped-down lifestyle.
May you be happy, may you be free from fear, and may you put yourself in luck’s way this year!