Monday, January 19, 2009

The Hope Thing

I was raised on hope. It formed the foundation of a childhood  built on a precarious ledge that could break off at any time. Most of the time I'd wake up in the morning relieved we were still in the same house, apartment, or motel room. Hope was defined as a small wish, an unvoiced plea that we could stay this time,  that we didn't have to sneak out in the middle of the night because the money was gone again, gambled away by my father when he managed to hold a job for more than a couple months, or just gone because there was never enough to last more than a couple days, no matter how hard anyone worked.

Hope was the sucking in of my breath and thinking if I was completely quiet, if I never cried, if I was just invisible enough, my father wouldn't notice me and I could escape his wild rages, the beatings that he inflicted on everyone unfortunate enough to be in the same room with him. Hope was sometimes wishing he'd get hit by a truck so all our bruises could finally heal and I wouldn't have to wear long-sleeved shirts to school in a 110 degree weather anymore.

Then there was the kind of hope that wished I didn't live with a grandmother who spoke no English, a mother whose accent was so thick she might as well have been speaking Martian. Or the even more unreasonble hope that I would no longer be short and dark but tall and blond and thin. Or those days when I was so exhausted I'd wish I didn't have to be the responsible adult so often, and that someone would take turns  being the grownup so I could finally get enough sleep.

When I left home at 17, it was a home I'd only lived in for a couple months. I'd never gone to the same school for an entire year in my whole life. I had penpals I was closer to than the temporary friends I made before we had to move on again. But every time we moved, every time we arrived in a new town, every time I was the new kid in a room full of strange faces, I hoped that it would be different, that the pattern of my life would change, that the paradigm would shift, that I'd wake up safe, secure, and living in a stable, loving and constant never-changing life.

And for a few days, for a few weeks, and in some extremely rare occasions that I remember well because they were so rare, I realized my hope through the sheer act of hoping. I lived it and knew it, however brief it was. Maybe it was because I knew it was only temporary,  and so I had to jump in and indulge myself completely before it went out like a candle flame burning in the momentary lull of a hurricane.

My life is made up of those patchwork moments, those times when I let myself believe and dream and hope that no matter how bad things were, they would always get better--even if only for a few days or hours at a time. I learned to let that be enough, to settle for the moments because they were better than no moments at all.

I write this to explain what is happening to me now with the upcoming inauguration. I find myself afraid to hope, afraid to believe until Obama takes that oath and officially becomes President, that the Bush years are finally over. This is how deeply that bastard has stolen hope from us, from me, from someone who had it dashed over and over in my life and yet still believed enough to move forward until Bush came along and did what a lifetime of shit couldn't do: he took my hope.

And on Tuesday I'd like that evil, shit-faced, smug little son-of-a-mean-ass-bitch to know that I'm taking it back. I'm taking it back along with the belief that America will never be anything but a racist, ignorant country. I'm taking back my hope that once again we will be a nation of adults and those of us who are always stuck being the responsible adults can finally take a break. I'm taking back the hope that we will become the kind of people who draw strength from what we do for others instead of from what our armies do to others. I'm taking back the hope that we will stop letting the greedy powermongers divide us so they can more easily pick our pockets, empty our bank accounts into their own, and then blame us for what they did to us. I'm taking back my hope that together as one people, one planet we can build a world that builds dreams instead of destroys them.

And no, it is not President Obama who can do this. It is me and you. It is us. It is being the change we wish to see in the world, because more than anything it was the small bits and pieces of hope  Bush didn't kill that elected Obama President and if we combine them again, who knows what we will do with that much power next. I can hardly wait!

You voted for change and now it's time to put it into motion with
the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Show your support and your
activism with this design of a peace dove, a candle, and the words "Be
The Change" that comes from the Gandhi quote "Be the change you wish to
see in the world." (Click on shirt to purchase or visit Crazy Old Lady Of Peace store)

A rainbow of raised fists proclaim "Power to the People." Wear it to
show your part in electing Barack Obama as the first people's President
who will represent us equally. (Click on shirt to purchase or visit Ursine Logic store)

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