Alas

Written Friday, October 23

Here’s some wisdom from the band Gungor for you on this rainy, politically divided Friday morning:

Every black life matters

Every woman matters

Every soldier matters

All the unborn matter

Every gay life matters

Fundamentalists matter

Here’s to life in all its branches

What I wish anyone running for president would say at a debate.  It’s not nuanced enough to exist as a political platform, but it sure would be a good place to start.  If any of the candidates said this, I’d listen up.  No matter the political party.  I’d be willing to consider his/her other words instead of instantly writing him/her off.  Because it’s balanced.

I can’t begin to list the utterly unbalanced statements the candidates have gone with instead.  It would upset me too much.  But there’s been a lot about what’s wrong with everyone else – everyone besides the candidates themselves.  And “Americans.”  Though the Americans the competitors (because this really is a game) are purportedly hoping to represent, to help, don’t seem to include all the Americans that disagree with them.  I wish (I know, it’s naive, based on what should be instead of what is) that a person could actually run for office from a place of honesty, of self-sacrifice.  With a willingness to listen well and give thoughtful responses, motivated by solving problems instead of earning higher poll ratings.  And still get elected.  And then maintain those same admirable traits without selling out to special interest groups.  Alas.

In order for that to happen, we, the Americans, would have to give them room to have opinions that don’t entirely match up with all of our own.  We’d have to read further than the headlines, listen past the soundbites, allow for unpolished responses to debate questions rather than empty statistics and rhetoric dished to candidates via headsets.  We’d have to put our appetite for the politics show we, as a nation, gobble up so ravenously on a strict diet  – of fact and calm discussion.  Again, alas.

Since this seems daunting given our human faults of pride and general disdain for other, all I can find to do is play this song.  Make it my own starting block for political opinion.  I can think what I think deeply, but if I don’t start here, no one will listen to me.  You can disagree with me deeply, but if you don’t start here – at every person matters, even the otherwe’re sunkWe’ll get exactly nowhere, with fists up, ready to battle for our own opinions instead of contemplating another point of view.

Oh, to care less that I’m right than that I’m loving my neighbor.

Oh, that we would fire everyone running for president and start over.

Take notice, politicians.  Try this new tack – start here and see what happens.  You might just get my vote.  And I bet I’m not alone.

Our Happy Was Too Loud

Sometimes surprises are not-so-good, like when your kid goes in for a check up and you discover she has an ear infection, or when you find a strand of hair in your burrito bowl.  Others are terrible, like waking to your car spinning across all lanes of traffic, and the grass median, to the opposite shoulder of the highway.  And then there are the good surprises.  The ones that make you smile at worst, and inappropriately snort with laughter at best.  My weekend away was this kind of surprise.

We were in Mexico for my friend’s 40th birthday celebration – eating, drinking, talking.  Just what a group of nine women of a certain age need to do from time to time.  Without children or husbands or the constraints of our everyday lives.  We sat by the pool, ordered guacamole and chips and an assortment of tropical drinks.  And we laughed til our faces hurt.  We were splendidly ridiculous in our adolescent-like silliness, and it felt like breathing in a lungs-worth of fresh air.

I only knew half of these ladies before the trip began, but I’d count them all as my friends now.  Perhaps it was the generous amount of caipirinhas and margaritas (by the way, when you mix them, they go to a whole new level of yum), or the freedom we felt with the all-you-can-eat set-up (the humor in each person ordering two appetizers…before we ordered two entrees each, was not lost on our giggly group), but we bonded immediately.  There were different personalities – some quiet, some boisterous, most both at turns – but we meshed unpredictably well.  I wasn’t sure the result of throwing together this assortment of women would be good, let alone fabulous.  I was cautiously optimistic.  But my hesitation was overcome as early as the first night.  I knew I liked all these people.  And I knew the weekend was about to get amazing.

One evening, after a day of shopping in sweat-drenching weather in Cabo San Lucas, we showered, dressed up, and headed to dinner on a farm.  It was a lovely set-up with twinkly lights and paving stones, a bamboo-covered canopy, star shaped lanterns and the best (and only) watermelon Julep’s I’ve ever had.  Much farm-to-table food was consumed, many yummy drinks were tried (the smokey Mezcal margaritas were also incredible), and so much stinking laughter was shared.  Fairly loud laughter.  There may or may not have been lawn acrobatics occurring.  At one point I stepped back and saw the scene we had created for the first time.

I had been in the mix of silliness for a while and hadn’t noticed the circus attraction our group had become.  As I took in the scene, I was a bit embarrassed.  Three waiters stood, arms crossed, likely making sure we kept our antics to the outskirts of the outdoor restaurant.  The table of girls who were there celebrating someone’s 30th birthday, the younger version of our wise old group, had vacated.  Likely due to our celebratory volume.  It made me think of a favorite quote from a movie I love: “Their happy is too loud.”  Our happy was, by all means, too loud.  But in this instance, at this age, in this far-away place that seemed outside of time and space, I realized I didn’t much care.  If your happy is too loud, it seems to me, life is pretty darn good.  I decided to go with it.

The rest of the patrons seemed unaware of our revelry – the waiters were doing a good job.  So no harm, no foul.  When was the last time I’d been truly silly?  I didn’t know.  Therefore, it had been too long.

As the weekend ended and we said our goodbyes, I realized I would not see any of these people for a long, long time.  I was the only one coming from Kansas – seven out of the other eight live in L.A.  And I felt a loss.  I began the trip slightly unsure.  But I ended it with several new friends, and with friendships of the past rekindled.  Many of them can recount with each other our lovely weekend together, but I’ll have to store it away in my heart.  Ready for the next time I see these fun and funny women.  Under the category of excellent, mile-marking experiences of my life.  Thanks, ladies, for a weekend outside of reality.  Outside of Kansas and responsibility and serous, adult behavior.  What a pleasant surprise it was.