i went to a gas station earlier today. there was a woman on the other side of the pump as me, screaming into her phone. although i am one for eavesdropping, i didn’t have to. she jabbed the pump into her car & screamed at the person on the other end, “I WANT TO BE WITH REPUBLICANS! I WANT TO BE WITH WHITE, CHRISTIAN, EVANGELICAL REPUBLICANS! I DON'T WANT TO BE WITH DEMOCRATS! I DON'T WANT TO COEXIST WITH LGBTQ DEMOCRATS! I WANT TO BE WITH REPUBLICANS!"
now. i have zero context for her phone conversation. i cannot tell you who this woman was, where she’s from, what her story is, what her wounds are, or where she’s headed to after the gas station. but as i inserted my card wrong not once, twice, but three times, profoundly distracted & frazzled at what was occurring about three feet from me, & finally jabbed my own pump into the gas tank, i can tell you i was deeply, deeply unsettled. there were so many emotions suddenly flooding my mind as i followed her minivan out of the parking lot. for one, i was angry. angry at her for - in that phone conversation - representing numerous amounts of people that may share similar beliefs as her, but live in & love the world in drastically different ways. angry at her for involving herself in whatever event or dinner or relationship she is involved in. i was sad. saddened over the fact that this random experience i had on my way to hobby lobby on a friday night isn’t all that random. saddened over the lack of dignity & respect we are capable of hauling at a person during a short exchange. i was stunned, although i maybe shouldn’t have been. i was embarrassed. for her. for me. for all of us.
i’m sharing this experience, but i don’t know what message i’m intending to send. every concise message i could possibly come up with sounds so forced & emptied & lazy. be kind? be a better person? be more self-aware? be somewhere in private when you’re reaming someone out over the phone?
i left the gas station & thought i left the experience largely behind me. i came back home & sat on my floor & played some music & started writing letters to my bridesmaids, my sisters. as i was writing, memories of being their little sister piled themselves in my mind. i remember spinning in my white dress as a flower girl for their weddings & learning how to throw a ball left-handed & being hugged over & over again whenever they walked through the front door & being listened to at the kitchen table & being cried with next to the dolphin lamp in my bedroom & being chased up the stairs & waking up to hand-written notes on my dresser when they left for college & having an insatiable desire to be around them all the time because i was safe with them.
& i spent a few minutes reflecting on how life for me & my sisters has changed & how in many ways it’s come full circle with each of them having kids & i was blasted in a moment with this : life is urgent.
yes, i hope each & every one of us have strong & deeply held beliefs, but i hope with each new morning, there are less & less of us that see the world as black & white, that write-off each person as republican or democrat, christian or democrat, christian or republican. whatever labels we falsely interchange should never serve as an all-encompassing description of a human being. we cannot afford to allow our unconscious bias’ to dominate our worldview & rage themselves inside of it. we cannot afford to scream over the phone at a gas station demanding the world has to be a certain way & then screaming our position again & then screaming our position again & then screaming our position again … at another person. & may i add - a person who is likely just as confused & wounded & hungry for love & acceptance as the next.
we were all, at one time, little boys & little girls figuring out how to do a cartwheel & throw a baseball & draw a hopscotch course. i’m not saying we were meant to stay that way. i’m glad we didn’t. the world needs our voices, but more than our voices, the world needs our ears, our strong & tender hearts & most of all, our love. our stubborn, safe, fierce, handmade, be-with-you-for-however-long-when-you-break kind of love.
scream that next time you’re at a gas station.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.