Thursday, May 9, 2013

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.

6 comments:

  1. I have the same feelings, in both of my backward states, AZ and IN. I am less comfortable in them or associated with them all the time, and my vote does not count--and not in a good way. Ughhh!!!!

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    1. Every time I think we are getting closer as a nation (response to Newtown, Boston, Tucson) I am smacked in the head by the distinctions. Sigh.....
      a/b

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  2. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this! I have always considered myself a strong individual, and its truly taking all my energy to keep a positive attitude and gain my foothold here. One of the most frequent comments I get about coming from the Boston is "it's sure different there". In light of the marathon bombings the other comment I got was "good thing you got out of that mess". I don't know what my comeback is on that, because I really wanted to fly back and band together with all of my friends and raise money and do something positive. Because that's what Bostonians do; we don't run, we don't hide, we are BOSTON STRONG.

    I joked to my friends I feel like I'm on a foreign assignment; I do hope that changes with time. In the meantime, I'll try and find a way to use my powers for good, Suzi. It's the only thing I really have control over.

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    Replies
    1. Embracing the otherness of it all worked for me... until my state decided to legislate to hurt my heart. I liked the cowboy attitude, until the guns were aimed my way. Texans have less of a live-and-let-live attitude than Arizonans, I think, and that might ease my way more than yours. Texan pride is undeniable; Arizonans have a more laid back approach.. it's more about the land and the weather than the sense of Arizona-is-its-own-little-world.

      My Dad and a Texan on a plane out of Dallas, decades ago.
      Dad ,after hearing how farms and cows and land and cities and everything was bigger in Texas than anywhere else, looks out the windows at the clouds and says: I suppose those are some of your Texas cotton bolls, eh?

      It was a long long 4 hours after that to their destination :)
      a/b

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  3. My birthplace is where "the shot heard 'round the world" initiated, Concord, Massachusetts. The militas gathered from the countryside to rout the British, beginning our nation's independence. The militas today that are so admirably spoken of by the NRA, under the 2nd Amendment, were gathered to round up slaves who decided they'd rather run than be slaves anymore. When Wayne LaPierre stated he thought Bostonians wished they'd had guns on April 15th he was sadly mistaken. We don't need guns to keep us free and safe - we have our duly appointed police, thankfully. Why this gun culture proliferates throughout certain sections of our country defies explanation. Thank you both for expressing the feelings so many of us have. We need to bring sanity to Congress, and it will take a multitude..let's proceed to get it done...and you Suzie, have led the march....Thank you for your courageous words and thanks for helping the lovely Meg, who I proudly claim as my own to adjust to "different" mindsets.

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