Connecting Nonetheless


I indulge the dogs’ desire to sniff a dormant blueberry plant, as I’m trying to slow my pace. I want to be near Siddhar and Marilee’s stoop when they get there.

Siddhar walks determinedly with the assistance of two walking sticks. The thin, yellow headband holds down his long, frizzed gray hair. A horizontal orange stripe crosses his face, painted there by his Blue Blocker lenses.

Merilee, beautifully coiffed hair, walks slightly ahead of him.

As Siddhar goes to the side yard,  Merilee continues towards me.

“I’m sorry to see,” I say.

“What’s that?” she says slightly defensively, thick mascara (or false lashes?) outlining her pained eyes.

I understand, out of context, she can’t know what I am sorry about.

“I said, ‘I’m sorry to see.’” I gesture to the  American flag upside down on their porch.

And then I realize she might be hearing “I’m sorry to see” meaning that I disapprove of their flying the American flag upside down

“You sorry about what?” she says.

It can’t be easy being the only visible conservatives in this North East Portland neighborhood with our “Love always wins,” “Black lives matter,” and “Everyday Antifa” signs everywhere.

“Oh, no. I mean, I am sorry you are in distress,”  I continue. “The flag,” I say, “Upside-down. Distress. That.”

There is a moment before she continues on.

“Yeah, that’s not this house. It’s this country. You better believe we are in distress.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. Distressed. For me. Be distressed for this country.”

“I am.”

“I’m sorry for your children. All of the children. I’m distressed for them. You have two children, right?”

We chat for a while.

We reminisce about her sending condolences after the anti-semitic chalk graffiti appeared outside my house.

We reminisce about the day the morning I brought over my pressure washer, hooked it up to in-between-neighbor Marion’s spigot, so I could remove the painted arrow towards their house and the word “racist.”

She remembers I made my son come out and help.

Quickly, she puts her hand out to shake mine.

It’s still pretty panemicy at the time, but I take her hand.

One of us says, “I’m glad we can talk to each other.”

The other, “That’s what this country is supposed to be about.”

A CONTEST WITH PRIZES Do  you have a friend, neighbor, or relative with whom you find yourself on opposite sides?If so, I have a prize opportunity for you!Contact that friends, neighbor, or relative and say:

Hello _______ (name),

I entered a contest.
With activities and prizes.
I am reaching out because othering and cancelling each other isn’t right.
I thank you for reading.

 Note: you are not to address your political / ideological differences. You are to simply make human contact.  Because othering and cancelling people isn’t right. That’s it.

Just a human connection.

The prize? 

Bringing the world together, a few people at a time. And, you’ll probably sleep a little better. Let me know how it goes.

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