Yesterday afternoon I spent quite a long time talking on the phone to an old friend who lives half this continent away while H.o.p. was with Marty touring the Jim Henson exhibit at the Atlanta History Center. She was adamant I bring up NPR on the radio and listen to the concert at the Lincoln Memorial. By the time I did, however, the concert was over. Then last night I saw on Americablog a link to a video from the concert, at Youtube, of Pete Seeger singing “This Land is Your Land” with his grandson and Bruce Springsteen, and Marty and I sat down to watch it with H.o.p., to listen to Seeger exhort the rest of us all to join in, and I tried vainly to explain to H.o.p. why it might mean so much to his parents and to others to watch Pete Seeger up there singing
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
I’d post the video here for memory’s sake but it has since been removed from Youtube due to a copyright claim by Home Box Office. We have Direct TV but don’t have flashy ornaments like Home Box Office so I’m glad we saw the video last night when it was still available.
Of course I had mixed feelings while I was listening to Pete Seeger, his grandson and Springsteen. The kind of mixed feelings I didn’t have as I sat last Friday with H.o.p. and watched Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery and explained to him what that journey of “discovery” was really about, talked with him about Jefferson’s plans for the indigenous nations and the meaning of Lewis and Clark’s interactions with them, for though he already knows a lot about this I feel compelled to reiterate and tell him again, impressing upon him that, well…what Peter Seeger was singing about Sunday is a sentiment that didn’t exactly drive the creation of this nation as history teaches us it has. I ever remind him, as we pursue history, so that when he chooses to sing along to “This Land is My Land”, he needs to be ever mindful of the bone closets.
Just as I could choose to sing along with Pete Seeger on Sunday even as I thought about a link to a website a friend had sent me over the weekend, that website showing volumes of ledger picture art his great-grandfather had done circa Wounded Knee.
Later that night I read aloud to Marty Making Light’s “The True History of the Bush Years” in the form of headlines from “The Onion” and I laughed and laughed. As I hit the entries for 2008 (Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job, Crocodile Bites off Bush’s Arm, Vice President Cheney Seen Dragging Egg Sac Through West Wing) I was finally laughing so hard I could no longer speak. And it felt weirdly good even though it was painful as hell. Like the night my appendix ruptured when I was 28. I didn’t know my appendix had ruptured, I just knew I was in dire straits and made Marty read comedy to me for hours as an anesthetic. It hurt to laugh but still I laughed, eager for life to be more than Bruegel’s hell. Of course, the next day I was barely conscious, on morphine in the hospital, and then I was really really sick ten days later when I finally had my long-since-ruptured appendix removed after having been misdiagnosed (though they did peg the peritonitis). And I laughed after that, too, because I’d made it through and if I hadn’t laughed I’d have been petrified with fear over the fact that I’d not been just a walking time bomb, the time bomb had in fact gone off and still I’d managed to keep breathing those ten days despite it all. Hell, they’d even sent me home from the hospital and I’d had to keep pestering them, telling them, “Listen, things aren’t right.”
So, I laughed last night. And it felt good.
And it felt really, really awful.
This morning I woke up feeling emotionally like I’d been on a terrible drunk, one that can net you a life of penalties after only a couple of days, much less eight years, only I don’t drink (been there, done that, found out long ao I couldn’t do that) and I was paying for someone else’s bloody mayhem while they rode away scot free and merrily whistling. There are so many parties going on I could probably sling a rock in any direction and trepan a giddy celebrant, but my stomach was sour, I sagged under tons of psychic burden and all I really wanted to do was sit down in a corner and cry.
H.o.p. is excited because one of his uncles is in D.C. and will be attending the inaugural. H.o.p.’s hoping for pictures.
H.o.p. is still talking about the election. He recently asked if we could go back down and vote again soon because it was so much fun and so exciting standing in line with all the friendly people during the presidential election. I think he’ll remember that day for a long time.
We have a friend who is up in D.C. and the house she’s staying in lies under the exiting flight path that Bush’s helicopter will be taking. I hear that there are plans to take photos of it as it passes overhead.
Maybe I’ll get it in gear and feel a little more jovial when the big moment arrives…