Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Travelin' Blues

For the past couple of months I've been bitching and moaning about all the traveling I have to do this month. Don't get all excited, I'm not taking any of that back. It's frigging expensive and tedious and the logistics of where to bring the dog and how to spend time with all the right people and also, you know, sleeping are exhausting.

Yet today I started thinking that I'd really like to add a trip to the itinerary.

I want to go to Texas.

Unless you've been living under a rock or you don't know me at all you've figured out why without clicking on the link. I'd like to grab a case of beer and some sunblock and maybe my mom and go meet Cindy Sheehan.

If I were Doots I'd probably already have a cheap ass ticket and be on my way.

But, alas, I am not. I'm me.

I'm not a political blogger. I'm trying to become better informed politically but maintaining that tricky balance between enough news to help me win a finely nuanced political debate and not so much news that I end up cowering under my bed waiting for the bomb to drop is a delicate job.

Which means that I can't tell you what good I think I'd do by going to Texas and being one of the many who stand in the orbit of a brave and intelligent patriot.

I just admire her. (Just?) I suspect she's a great mother. She didn't agree with her son's choice to join the army but she'd brought up a boy, a man, who held to his convictions and she supported him even when their moral compasses pointed in different directions. Now that her son's choices put him in harm's way, and finally killed him, she is honoring his memory by sticking to her own principles and asking politely but firmly for an elected official to do his job.

When I think of her and her son I also think of a particularly headstrong 15-year-old athlete. He's at a point in teendom where he feels invincible. It's also a stage where it's entirely possible that if anyone over the age of 25 told him not to jump off a cliff he'd be inclined to do it anyway.

In three years he will be 18. In three years he will be eligible for registration in the Selective Service and be able to legally make his own decision about serving in the military. In three years, according to Mr. Rumsfeld's timeline, the US military will still be "working" in Iraq.

This athlete is a boy close to my heart. I loved him when he was 8 and got yelled at for "hanging around" when he said he was going out to play and it turned out he was waiting to say goodbye to me but didn't know how to ask. I loved him during his mom and dad's wedding when he was on his best behavior until everything was over and then dissolved into inconsolable temper tantrums and crying. I loved him last week while we sat across from each other at the dinner table and train wrecked our conversation to a point where it ground to a complete halt in a shower of misunderstandings that finally had to be explained to me by another adult. I don't share blood with him, I didn't meet him until he was 6 ot 7, I only see him a few times a year (and these days we can barely cobble together dialogue when I do) but the thought of him going over there, learning what you can't avoid learning there, of dying there in a place where I can't even give him the crappy communication we have now makes me want I could try out some fancy words but I'm sure I can't even imagine what it would be like.

What if I were his parent? What if I were Cindy Sheehan? Is a conversation with someone who arguably put him in harm's way such an unreasonable thing to ask?

As I walked home this evening I passed a couple of vigils in support of Mrs. Sheehan. I thought of joining the larger one but it turned out to be a bit of a loud and frenzied discussion about our current president and that's not really what I'm looking for. I can't bring myself to think that these things are actually helping, will actually bring about change, will reduce the number of sons and fathers who do not return but...

I just want to stand beside her, beside all the mothers and fathers and veterans there, to stand close enough that they know they are supported and to take up enough space that the president and his handlers cannot overlook her.

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