Well, as a recent citizen of Texas, I experienced what they called "gun day" last weekend. The legislature voted to let college students carry weapons in classrooms, amended the state constitution to ensure no one could ever deny them assault weapons, and above all make sure no one could ever run a background check. I lament my vote may never count for anything during my time here. It also makes me deeply regret my commitment to live here.
So wrote, Meg, a blogosphere friend, in the comments last week. She left her comfort zone in Boston last year, and relocated with her family to Texas... which is about as far from Boston as Long Island is from Tucson.
She's trying her best, really, she is, but sometimes the culture shock is too great. She went from living near Bunker Hill to visiting the Texas book Depository. She's called ma'am. She's trying to adjust, but it is not easy.
I feel her pain.
When we moved from California to Arizona, we placated our liberal friends' fears that we were moving to a land of neanderthals by reminding them that we had a woman governor and a Jewish woman representative, both of whom shared centrist, reasonable beliefs within the Democratic Party. Arizona was "trending purple" and we were riding the wave.
Then, President Obama took Janet Napolitano to Washington and bullets took Gabby out of Washington and instead of living in a state that was moving, inexorably, into the 21st century, we found ourselves in the middle of a battle for our souls. Texas has "gun day" and we have a state gun. It's hard to live with.
I've always been proud of where I lived, even though I seem to have been in each place at its nadir. I was in New York during the riots and the fiscal calamity of the 1960's and '70's. We were in Chicago under the series of mayors after Mayor Daley's death and before his son's election. Streets weren't swept, let alone cleared after the snow, and the public housing projects were so bad one of those interim mayors moved in (with bodyguards) to prove to the residents that someone was listening. Though we shared the tech bubble with the rest of California, we also barely escaped Gray Davis's economic debacle.
The political realities were awful, but the places themselves remained unsullied. I knew that the news was just an overlay on the map of wonderfulness that was the beach and the lakefront and the ocean and the history that made up my state. My state. I was connected by more than geography. I felt at home. The problems were enormous, but they were not enough to separate me from my home.
Something is different now. Meg and I are both feeling it. Our legislatures are creating an environment which makes our skin crawl. There is no sense of connection, of belonging, of feeling that our voices are being heard.
Big Cuter votes in San Francisco. His socially liberal politics are well-represented by the voting public. He, too, says that his vote doesn't really matter.... but that's okay, because he's happy with the outcome. Meg and I are in a different place. It's a place of futility, of anxiety, of dissociation.
That's not to say that we won't be investing energy in trying to effect change. There's always hope... right? We're able to admire the physical beauty of our new home, while bemoaning the actions being taken in its name. Because we both know that it's hard to live in a place whose name is just-this-side-of-embarrassing-to-say-aloud.