I posted this yesterday, but I started it awhile ago so it shows up on the date I started writing. So...here is the link to yesterday's posting:
How I See It
It would stand to reason that after reading some tips on successful blogging that I would grind to a screeching halt, much like baking a chocolate cake after starting a diet.The tip I ran across in several sources said, "Blog every day!" But here is what happens to me. The ideas I have come mostly fully formed. In the shower, the car, at any time when my brain is mildly afloat and usually when I am not near a computer. So I jot down my ideas on scraps of napkin, the notebooks I try to have on hand for such purposes, or the backs of lost school papers when the journals aren't present hoping that I can re-capture as much as I can. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't. Then the mind games set in. I give it a go and if I don't like the result, I save the post but never publish. A few days pass, I try again, and then I work myself into a lather. If I didn't post yesterday, what's another day going to hurt? Before you know it, seven days have passed and the thing I love is shriveling up like most plants I have ever tried to care for. I do not do well with plants, and I have much higher hopes for this blog.
At any rate, I am here with scraps of this and that trying to piece together my next post...don't forget about me. I haven't forgotten about you.
Thing 2 wants nothing to do with hearts, red and pink construction paper, and any mention of kissing will prompt the gag reflex. A babysitter once shared that he seemed anxious on one of her visits. She asked him what was wrong, and he asked if he HAD to get married when he grew up. She said no...it wasn't a law or anything. The weight of the world appeard to be lifted from his shoulders. Had he not been so obviously physically and mentally relieved, it would have been funny. She is a good babysitter who knows when and when not to laugh.
But....I will tell you that Thing 2 carries his love in unexpected ways. He still seeks out my hand to hold. After chess club, he thinks nothing of walking down the hallway of his school with his hand wrapped tightly around mine. I never let go of it because who knows when it will happen again? I fear my days are numbered. The discussion of Valentine's Day prompted indignance. "We love each other everyday...we don't need a special day for this... and chocolate is good to me any day of the week." True, baby boy, true.
And while he reigns as the best sleeper in this house, occasionally he asks if I will just "snuggle up for a few minutes until I feel good." My heart breaks while I casually hang out just a little longer than necessary. I know this because he prompts my leaving by saying, "Thanks. That's enough, mom."
If there is Freaudian crap involved, I do not want to know. What I want is to put these moments in a bottle and store them up for the less-than-loving moments that are sure to come.
Thing 2 wants nothing to do with hearts, but he certainly has mine.
I was asked, not unkindly, about my "attachment" to Andrew's death. This came up because I was remembering the events of a year ago, thinking of Andrew's family, and what has happened in my own life since then. I have never attempted to make more of my relationship to Andrew than what it was. It was nothing more than a casual aquaintance of a relative by marriage. But, it would be wrong to say I was not moved. I had the bird's eye view to grief and frankly, it seems a bit disrespectful to not stop, if only for a moment, to examine my own story.
Shortly after Andrew's death, Minnesota decided that we must vote this fall on whether or not to put a Marriage Amendment in our state constitution. Until this time, I had given little thought to my sister's coming out story. My parents just loved her, there was little drama on their end that we know of, and life ambled on. In fact, I had to ask Angie if I was remembering things correctly. She laughed because the details were fuzzy to her as well. This seems a bit funny now given what we know....which is that there is no shortage of heartbreak in young gay people who are hoping to be loved and accepted for who they are. This isn't to say that Angie's story to self-discovery wasn't tough. Only she can truly speak to that, but the last thing she needed to worry about was the acceptance of those who really loved her. None of that changed.
So if Andrew's death has done anything for me, it has made me realize that my parents have given me the ultimate gift in teaching me that you just love your kids for who they are.
As a parent myself, I see now how priceless this is. It is hardhardhard when you see qualities and traits in your child that you don't identify with or...even worse...when the qualities and traits of yourself get magnified through your child. You want to tell them how to be and how to act in order to avoid heartbreak. But the gift of age is the wisdom in knowing that the only way a person can truly be happy is to be who they are rather than fight it. Good parents know this and what is left for a parents to do, then, is love and be there when needed.
For years, I have walked around carrying this gift lightly, almost with disregard.
But I am no longer a fool.
Since February 27th, I have met people who have not been loved and accepted, I have listened to young kids mourn the loss of families they used to have. I have met people who have literally altered the course of their entire family's lives simply because they could not accept the fact that their child is gay.
This breaks me. It makes me sad and angry and disgusted and I want to pound the walls and hurl heavy objects through glass.
I do none of this. Instead, I hug my own kids tighter. I listen closely to things that go unsaid when my students talk. And I keep my voice present for those who don't feel like they have one.
It's not much, but it's what I have.
It would be easy to say that my actions would be the same had I not attended that military funeral a year ago. However, that cold windy day woke up something within me. I guess if you want to call it an attachment you can.
But really what I was given was a gift...one I have chosen not to squander.
While I was visiting an elementary school the other day, a woman stopped to thank me for sticking up for people like her son who is gay. We talked in a hurried manner since she was going one way and I another. At one point we stopped and she said, "You know, I spent a year trying to talk my son out of it, but there was no use." I quickly tried to connect the dots. This is the land of Michele Bachmann so I know people who hope to "pray the gay away". She kept talking, and I finally figured out that she was talking about teaching-- she had tried to talk her son out of becoming a teacher! She worried about the climate of acceptance he might find himself in, and she felt the pay was not going to support his dream of becoming a father. Adoption is expensive, and it would be the only option for him. She laughed when I confessed where my train of thought had headed, but she also nodded her head in recognition of the truth I had spoken. She became sad for a moment. "Believe me. I know who I can and cannot talk to. I have learned that the hard way. But thank you for what you have written. It's nice to know I am not alone." She gave me a hug, and we went our separate ways.
I am not sure what this says about this world, how I fit in it, and what my future holds. It becomes easy to second-guess the value of a message you believe in when you live in a bubble of like-minded souls. But it's not enough if you are hoping to have meaningful conversations that promote a different way of thinking. It was good for me to meet someone living in the real world, someone who has to watch what they say and to whom they say it to. It reminds me that while I feel free to speak, not everyone does. As much as we say it is a "free country", for many it is not.
And, if I needed another nudge or a tap-tap-tap to let me know whether or not I am headed in the right direction, I think I got it.
I called my sister last weekend and asked her to meet me in the Twin Cities. I had a meeting with ART (http://www.andrewsroundtable.com)
and I told her we'd be "working for the gays." She suggested that somehow we try putting "working for our gay peeps" into our mission statement. This evolved (or dissolved depending on your take of things) into a new mission to create a gay Peep in time for Easter. Since she is a gay woman who loves Peeps, this seems like the ultimate progressive statement for her. And to have such symbolism during the most holiest of seasons. Well, it would the crunchy sugar coating on the Peep! Peeps, however, are already gay-ly colored so we really struggled with how to identify one as being gay. Oh, the woe we felt for this. Finally! Now is the time to be bold and in your face GAY! Nothing says gay like a Peep. Or does it? We just couldn't figure it out.
Digressions happen when you are with a sister, gay or straight. Thankfully, ART has a task master (not me) who keeps our meetings running smoothly and no Peep-talk occured.
Though there was plenty of talk about our people. Those we love, those we work with, those we share classrooms and work spaces with. We discussed how we need to keep our mission moving foward. First and foremost, we hope to defeat the amendment that some are hoping to put into our Minnesota Consitution. Some, though we strongly hope not the majority, believe that marriage should be defined as between a man and woman only. Since gay marriage is already illegal in Minnesota, this added amendment serves no purpose other than to create a roadblock to the freedoms our country supposedly promises to everyone.
To that end, we are aiming big and small. Any one of our members is willing to have a conversation with a group of people who might benefit. Daily, I am surprised at people who don't even know the amendment exists so this goal of getting the word out is obvious.
I have put it upon myself to take our little group national by writing shamelessly to whomever will listen. I have started with Rosie O'Donnell and am working towards Ellen DeGeneres and Anderson Cooper. While we are concerned with Minnesotans, this is a national conversation. We feel the tide turning, and we want to be a part of a group whose soul interest is speaking out for those we love. I always think of Atticus Finch seeking justice for the black man in To Kill a Mockingbird. I think of men speaking out for women, and I know I would be nowhere without those who fought before me to give me this life of choice that I do not take for granted.
I heard Maya Angelou speak in Lincoln, Nebraska on a cold February day in the late 1990's. At one point during her speech, she became still. She looked up and she said, "Are you black? Raise your hand. Are you male? Raise your hand. Are you under 25? Raise your hand. Now put your hands down and STAND UP. Look at me. LOOK AT ME. Your debt has been paid. People have died for your right to be here. Do something about this. Make us proud. Quit whining. Quit stalling. Make no more excuses, but make us proud. The hardest work is over. Make us proud."
Her normally melodic voice was full of steel and a gritty insistence I have not heard from anyone since.
Not being black or male, I was still gob-smacked.
We take for granted what those who came before us did. We take for granted everyday the lives we live so it just seems wrong to do nothing. I joined ART because it seemed like the right thing to do.
Check us out: ART (http://www.andrewsroundtable.com/)
Our Valentine's Mission is easy and cost-free and there is still time to add your name.
I NEED some help in Winona so if you would like to help me here with local events I could seriously use a hand or three.
Until then, I stand with ART and my peeps. (Not Peeps)