I’m spending the long weekend with my kid. Days are spent swimming, reading & writing, visiting with friends, grabbing ice coffees and snacks, and experimenting with food. It’s summer so we often stay up late to binge watch shows or go night swimming. She’s almost 11 now and much of parenting is a whole lot of guidance and asking how she is making choices. I recently saw a meme that said parenting an only child is a lot #likealwayshavingabrokeassbestfriend. Truth.
Yesterday, with friends, we hiked into a great swimming hole on the greenbelt of Austin. We found pristine waters in the midst of one of the country’s fastest growing cities. An oasis strangely full, in the midst of an unexpectedly cool summer, surrounded by a community that lives on the edge of potential drought if rains pause for a few months. But this weekend, the water flowed deep and children played and argued and lived a dream.
Last night, we were headed home from more visiting and grilling of foods and so many blessings when we saw free rockstar parking near the city’s symphony & fireworks area of display. Oncoming traffic was non-existent so I threw the car into a fast, fully committed u-turn so I could adhere to the back-in parking regulations of the street. As I completed parking, my kid cackled with joy as she lectured me that my antics were certainly illegal, but really fun. We wandered about for a bit, then down to the lake-that-is-a-river shore and meandered through the crowd. The picture attached to this post is that crowd after the show. It was a crowd I would not normally tolerate, but am working on claiming space and not letting crowds of people bother me. Apparently, it’s working at least a little. Anyway, we saw the major downtown bridge was blocked off so we walked down the middle, stood in the center of it and laughed and whooped and danced in circles. We watched fireworks and talked about viewing them from a kayak in the future.
Today, we drove to a hidden spot, that is no longer so hidden, in the hill country where my child repeatedly threw herself off a swing that hangs from ancient trees and I took some time for myself. At this spot, kids and adults alike drop into a 15 foot (possibly deeper) hole of water that is monitored and protected from overuse. Teenagers play pseudo volleyball, classic rock plays while sugar ants seek out potato chip remains – though there are few.
To say this weekend is idyllic and a little picture of perfection is a gross understatement. We are safe and gifted to a point of ludicrous indulgence for the average American. Yet nothing we’ve done is extremely indulgent, simply a few days a de-stressing that should be accessible to everyone. In the midst of all this beauty, I’m divided.
I’m trying to separate our country’s birthday and the goodness that we live amongst with the absolute abysmal present administration. I spent four years serving this country because I had protested the first Gulf War – a war that continues 20 years later. I believed and continue to believe, we can’t appreciate the rights we have without sacrificing in some capacity. This goes deeper than military service, but that’s how I balanced the moral belief and personal action. I still love the ideals of this country, but the current manifestation is infuriating me to a pitch that is close to boiling point.
I see there are good people busting ass, but the shit-storm seems to be amplifying. On Wednesday evening, in the middle of a restaurant, I nearly got into a screaming match over women’s rights with a cousin & uncle after one poohooed that it is remarkable for a single woman to complete college while raising a kid. They seemed to believe it either wouldn’t be a challenge or seemed as easy as just getting daycare, because, “How much work is a kid, I mean really?” That’s just basic, straight forward white male privilege cluelessness. I keep hearing our conversation and my level of disappointment in them leaves me speechless. Still, at the end of the night, we hugged and sent each other off with love and good wishes. I can’t even begin to imagine conversations about immigration or tax policy. But I want to have them.
I don’t know what road this cultural experiment called America will take. Some of her future possibilities scare me to a core I can’t even begin to comprehend. Other possible outcome make me feel a joy and excitement that I also can’t comprehend. I don’t know where those roads start – though we are definitely merging dangerously close to the road of dismal humanitarian crisis for a large number of folks. I intend to always speak and act on the path of goodness, but I fear my words will be sharing time with some dark roads we have to travel to get back to the brighter fires we had been stoking.
In the meantime, I will keep living my life and teaching my child. As I’ve said before, love your loves a little harder. Be good to strangers. Reach to live big lives. Fearlessly create. Try something new. All we are promised is today.