Ten years ago, my sister Laura and I were in Greenwich Village at a restaurant near Washington Square Park. We stood all afternoon, hopped up at New York City’s Gay Pride Parade.
I’ve told you one of my hobbies is eavesdropping. And on that particular evening, my nervous system vibrated from nearby conversation. Soon I was leaning. Leaning to hear more. So much so, I apologized and then further infringed. “May I add something?” The two nodded. I intro’d Laura, intro’d myself. They intro’d themselves, mother and daughter. I wish I could remember the exchange, though recalling the feeling, feeling it now, is enough. Memories flitter and flicker evocatively.
On our right, a man and woman, he a New Yorker, she from France (maybe lovers), sat. Soon they joined the discussion. And then others. I’m smiling now, wistfully, as I recall the room, small tables, the intimacy. It was magical. As Laura and I left, did I suggest, “Same time next year?” Did she? Maybe. spins in extremes, both concentrated and expansive, the past viewed through gossamer.
Ten years ago, Obama was months away from taking the POTUS oath. Peaceniks were filled with hope. The world was filled with hope. Then in August of 2008 Obama tapped Joe Biden as his running mate. Many were filled with hope still, but at some time, somewhere, tucked in there between the announcement and the election, Biden said, “You don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist.” I knew Obama couldn’t/wouldn’t save us, that no one among the political class could or would save us EVER. And writing that—well, it’s not solidly accurate. I knew before, knew after the 2006 midterms when the Dems took Congress and. . . . .. . . . .. . . . . . nothing changed, and I feel stupid that it took so long for me to realize how propagandized I was. How long I believed there was a difference between Republicans and Democrats. How long I believed that capitalism was a just economic system. How long I believed the USA provided opportunities for all.
It’s even worse today. Some of you will challenge this. You’ll say separating migrant children from their parents predates Trump, that Barack Obama did it, just suavely, quietly. You’ll say Obama killed and maimed children with his war policy. All true. Trump’s military drops a bomb every 12 minutes. Both George Bush and Obama were epic mass murderers, and it appears that the current Megalomaniac-in-Chief will equal and perhaps surpass his predecessors in destruction. Still, there is something even more merciless with Trump, a zealous tribalism and legitimation, permission for white nationalists to speak, even act, violently against anyone they consider un-human. And they consider anyone un-human whose skin color is various shades of dark.
Meanwhile, war against the un-human rarely is discussed on corporate media outlets. Instead, those venues representing “liberal” views perform outrage that Trump is engaging in a particular hour’s chaos.
Ten years have passed and I am back in the city I love, back for the birth of my second grandson, on call to take care of my four-year-old grandson, formerly known as Mr. Poop-adore, when my daughter-in-law goes into labor. Secondary is reliving an exquisite moment—the Pride Parade and dinner at the Washington Square Hotel. So, Thursday, Laura, my guy, and I took the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan, emerging up and into a crowd we’d heard would number one million—paradise for me. Diversity, acceptance, expressions of love. Love everywhere. Love that I photographed.
A child, wearing a shirt with two words: “LOVE WINS”
A sign that read: “LOVE HAS NO BORDERS”
Another: “KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER”
This: “Let US Never Rest Until Those Children ARE REUNITED With Their PARENTS”
And: “MAKE AMERICA GAY AGAIN”
Someone handed Laura a card:
SPREAD THE LOVE
People notice the good you bring into the world!
KEEP THIS CARD AS A REMINDER THAT YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL HUMAN BEING
PASS THIS ON TO SOMEONE WHO COULD USE A LITTLE EXTRA LOVE
I should have read this before Chuck Schumer marched past, surrounded by his followers, because I didn’t spread the love to the old, capitalist, Zionist, imperialist monster. Instead, I shouted, “Resign. Resign. Term Limits. Resign.”
I did however spread love while walking later though Washington Square Park. No conversations with strangers this time at the restaurant though.
Later, when I talked with my grandson and he told me he’d been to a rally, he said, “Mimi, Donald Trump took those children away.”
His mum asked if he had anything else to tell me. He said, “No justice, no peace.”
I arrived here through a memory. And created another.
Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.