BROADENING THE JOINING
by Eve Marko
These are gray, beautiful days. We walk along the plains, almost 2,000 acres of shrub land and scrub oaks. I keep my eyes on the long gray skies and remember again why Ishmael goes back to sea whenever November is in his soul. Iâ€™m not tempted to go to sea, I enjoy going back to a warm home when outside it doesnâ€™t go over 32 degrees.
I miss the call to adventure. Instead, I have a conversation with Henry and Aussie aboutâ€”what else?â€”politics.
â€śYouâ€™d think you Libs would be happy after the election,â€ť snaps Aussie. â€śInstead youâ€™re scared shitless by what Trump will accomplish before he leaves.â€ť
â€śWhatâ€™s the worst he could do?â€ť asks Henry.
â€śItâ€™s too much to hope that heâ€™d deport all chihuahuas to Mexico,â€ť growls Aussie.
â€śHeâ€™ll add more folks to the unemployment rolls, thatâ€™s for sure,â€ť I say.
â€śBecause of corona?â€ť
â€śNo, because heâ€™s going to fire half of all government employees, especially career diplomats and professionals in the intelligence community,â€ť I tell her. â€śWould probably love to fire some generals but I donâ€™t know if he can, not to mention all the Republicans who supervised elections in states that went Blue.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sure heâ€™ll award Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, and Jared well-deserved Presidential Medals of Freedom,â€ť says Aussie. â€śMaybe Tiffany and Melania too. If only heâ€™d invited me to be his White House dog, heâ€™d probably be giving me a Medal of Freedom, too. Iâ€™d go down in history instead of walking in this God-forsaken place.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t know if dogs can get Medals of Freedom, Auss.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re civilians like everybody else. Beside, Trump doesnâ€™t care about silly rules like that, thatâ€™s what made him who he is today.â€ť
This Thanksgiving will be my first in a very long time without family. But Iâ€™m lucky, I have money for food, and in case I donâ€™t feel like cooking for 1 or 2, the Stone Soup CafĂ©, which provides hundreds of hearty, flavorful meals in this community every week, is giving away fabulous Thanksgiving meals on a pay-what-you-can basis. I havenâ€™t been there in a long time, but this may just be the ticket. It will be nice to greet Kirstin, their head chef, and their big team of volunteers.
Weâ€™re also beginning a give-away of some $1250-1500 in food cards over the next 8 days to immigrant families to make sure they have food for the holiday. I canâ€™t forget how my orthodox Jewish family, including my Russian rabbi grandfather, always had a Thanksgiving meal. I havenâ€™t met the immigrants or refugees, regardless of religious and cultural observances, who donâ€™t participate in Thanksgiving as soon as they arrive.
So, what are my Thanksgiving thoughts?
â€śYou Americans donâ€™t have your own main culture, except for maybe Thanksgiving.â€ť I still remember the evening when a Filipino playwright friend of mine said this at a meeting with me and other writer friends in a New York City apartment. I felt some annoyance. In New York thereâ€™s a Filipino theater that produces your plays, I wanted to tell her. Where would you and many of us be if we had one main culture that imposed its rules and limitations on everybody?
In a recent interview in the Atlantic Magazine, Barack Obama said that the United States is an incredible experiment in building a true multi-cultural society. Unlike other countries, Western and otherwise, we donâ€™t have a dominant culture. Whites will soon be a minority, and with their majority goes any pretense we might have had of a dominant culture that was primarily white, Christian, and European in origin. Many people believe that this is what the partisanship we are experiencing now is mostly about (even though Donald Trump got more Latino and African American votes than before).
Like it or not, weâ€™re on our way. Weâ€™ll melt a little in the big potâ€”we usually do in Thanksgiving, when everybody eats and gathers with familyâ€”but big pieces of us donâ€™t melt so easily. We want to hold on to our ethnic, religious, and cultural differences, and why not? Itâ€™s where our parents stood, our grandparents; itâ€™s our genealogy. Why invalidate it?
â€śWhen we define ourselves, when I define myself, the place in which I am like you and the place in which I am not like you, Iâ€™m not excluding you from the joiningâ€”Iâ€™m broadening the joining.â€ť
That was written by Audre Lorde, a woman of color, a Lesbian, a mother, a poet and essayist, a feminist. A little like me, a lot not like me, but at this time in our history, her words rang bells and bells. I canâ€™t and wonâ€™t deny my life experience as white, female, Jewish, Buddhist, immigrant. What in that makes me any less of an American?Â When I was very young, I tried to conceal the Jewish side of me for several years. What I realized over the decades is that I fit in better when I stand in my origins, in my difference, than when I pretend theyâ€™re not there. The more unique the Â traits, the better the possibilities for a great joining.
The poet Joseph Pintauro wrote:
I am not who I was
I am not going to be who I was going to be
you changed all that
you are not who you were
you are not going to be who you were going to be
I changed all that â€¦
who are we going to be?
we are going to be who we never would have been
without each other.
January 12, 2021
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