Sunday, January 25, 2009

I got teary every time I looked at the telly, on Inauguration Day.
I was not alone
. No matter the color of your skin, here was this real person so gracefully, so fully inhabiting the American dream, taking an oath written down while our country was still just an idea.

Now, the mood is a bit more sober. We visited Wash DC today with a dear friend and colleague of mine.
My personal feeling is, that the monuments somehow mean something again. Instead of being a history lesson, we know deeply and personally, that we are back in the struggle again.

His kid needed pictures of the monuments in DC for an English class project. So he took the kid, in person, to go see the monuments, and made him take pictures himself, with Dad and Chuck as photo/history/details coach.
First, we went to the Iwo Jima Memorial. The light was cold, dramatic and sobering.

Friend's kid asked Chuck the details on the guns and they went off (as only two 12-year-olds can) on those cold details.. while history and flesh in bronze, gleamed in stark & freezing sunshine. I walked up and put my bare hand on the freezing, immaculately gold inlaid Marine symbol on the monument. This is how I pay tribute, I have to touch things. This is how I connect. 

Next was Jefferson's Memorial. Rather an intellectual thing, like the Parthenon but newer, shinier, and seeming larger.
Jefferson clean and neat, standing gigantic amongst the columns and notes to god (he was a deist). Franklin Delano Roosevelt's monument was next. Our host and driver (AKA Dad to the incredibly smart kid) had a hard time finding a place after last week's inauguration festivities, and there were a lot of poop jokes about the huge number of porta-potties still inhabiting downtown. And then there were more poop jokes. But that's just us.

The Potomac resembled a crumbling Arctic ice floe, not an entirely inappropriate symbol of the previous administration. 
We entered FDR's monument backwards. There was no clue about the main character in the quiet benches and great granite blocks. Approaching a frozen water fountain, I said it was a fitting analogy. Smart Kid asked me why, and meant it. I said (paraphrased, not talking down to this guy just because he's 12) that help to people in trouble froze up during the Depression, and it's frozen up again now with Bushies only giving money to banks and other establishment ass-kissing oligarchs. People can't get resources, because they are frozen. 
I didn't mention the flamethrower I hope Obama is warming up, in the no longer so very fucking White House.
Can we call it something else now? I'm probably not the only one wanting Change on that front.
I said hello to Eleanor, one of my favorite feminist icons. She wasn't very noisy about it, but she got so much done. Sometimes that's the best way.

The trip through the FDR memorial was harrowing.
Sure, we did it backwards. I interpreted it as feeling FDR's touch, without ever seeing him. It's a good way to do this memorial. You see his wife first, as any poor, afflicted person might have.

It's the strong women who move out into triage positions. Then the rest of them get there.

Then you see the great spaces in which he worked to get those who had fallen into misfortune, by no fault of their own (as he had, with polio), back on their feet.
As a man with polio, would never come to his feet again, he worked to get an entire nation back up, walking and working.
There's something to be said, for projection and identification.

Once upon a time, the last thing on my mind, was patriotism. I'm too introverted to care about the fate of a nation.
Until I met and worked with the souls upon whom, the fate of the nation depends.

Now I touch every military monument with reverence, I work twice as hard when they are my clients, and my emotions are deeply entwined with their plight.

We who are here, and have opinions, we matter about as much as we make it matter. 
It's the risk I take out here.

I'm afraid people will read what I write. 
I'm afraid they won't .
I live in the horrible middle.
No news, no difference in my life, whatever the reaction. An advantage to being the Stranger in the Strange Land, no expectation of empathy or understanding.
Just trying to figure it out for myself, whatever my audience endures/ignores.

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