Monday, July 31, 2006

We Activists Start 'Em Young...

I luxuriated this afternoon in the company of Lynn, one of my closest friends, who finally realized what was good for her and moved back to this part of the country from the-oh-so-gorgeous and politically-correct Ithaca, New York. I know it is cultural whiplash for her, but selfishly, I will donate my services as politically liberal ambassador from Indiana in exchange for having her back in my neck of the cornfields. I will shield her eyes from confederate flag bumper stickers on 4x4 pick-ups and will assure her that some Hoosiers do believe in recycling and wearing Patchouli oil (on occasion).

Lynn and I took her son Eli out for lunch and a few hours of galavanting around tiny North Manchester, which is the home of my college alma mater and short 40-minute drive and I still can't get over the utter joy of having her so close, a mere 40 minutes away (which sure as hell beats that expensive plane ticket to upstate New York and the cost of the Xanax I need to take to get on the freakin' plane). I still can't get over the delight in having someone who knows me so well that they roll their eyes when I order the same exact thing I always order at Subway.

My women friends have been scattered across the country for so long now, that I forget the easy comfort that comes with someone who I simply feel that easy familiarity, the comfort in having someone you don't have to hold in your stomach around, the understanding of someone who can finish your sentences and who can properly identify exactly what small object of which you are referring when you say, "You know...hand me the 'doo-hickey'..." The person with whom you lie awake laughing hysterically at 3:00 a.m. and the person who holds hope for you when you feel utterly hopeless and barren.

As we were finishing our North Manchester adventuring, we drove by my old house in town, a beautiful brick English cottage built in the 1900s where I lived for six years. I prided myself on the cottage garden which had been started by the former owner, and which I enhanced. I spent hours pulling leaves and pruning trees, and lying on the ground under the french Lilac tree in the spring waiting for a soft wind to blow those deep, deep purple blooms down into my hair. A church (a fundamentalist church which doesn't allow women to be pastors, not that I'm bitter) has bought the property now after my friend Lee (who bought the house from me) married and moved out a few months ago.

I mourned when I drove by the house today and saw that my beautiful day lilies and my fragile lady's mantle, my butterfly bush and my wild roses have all been torn out to make more space for what I can only assume will be pavement, else why would my plants be so cruelly treated?

I said in a dramatic fashion to Lynn's almost-3rd-grade son, Eli who sat quietly in the backseat, "Eli, can you believe what happened to my beautiful house and my beautiful gardens? Do you remember coming here when you were little?" Eli looked out the window solemnly as we crept past and said, "Look how different it is!" "I know, Eli," I said. "And I hate's so ugly now..." There was a moment of quiet mourning until Eli, who had just received a new pad of drawing paper piped up, "Kiki! [his nickname for me], I know...let's start a demonstration! I have paper here already, all we need are some sticks and we can make some signs. We can stand outside on the sidewalk and tell them how unfair it is!"

I looked at Lynn and said, "You're raising him right, Lynnie. How's that for a nonviolent response?!?" Lynn smiled knowingly. She's not surprised. She's supermom.

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