Posts Tagged ‘America’

please send the police now

June 1st, 2022    -    14 Comments

It was the summer of 1965 and the city was burning. The Watts Riots had erupted one hot August night in Los Angeles and kept going for days. On the fifth day, we were piled into our family station wagon heading down the 405 freeway after a visit to my grandparents’ house an hour north. We made this drive nearly every weekend, only this drive was different. A convoy of National Guard vehicles lined the road, soldiers at the ready. Street fires glowed on the horizon, their smoke darkening an already dark sky. Traffic barely moved and we were far from home. I was 8 and very afraid. My world wasn’t safe. It wasn’t even my world anymore.

Please send the police now.

For years after that I had nightmares in the bunkbed of the back bedroom in our teeny house on Eastwood Street. Nightmares about being attacked. Sometimes by a war party of Indians with feathers and facepaint, just like in the movies. Other nights by soldiers in helmets with rifles crawling in the windows and inching down the hall. Either way I was undefended and about to die. I was little, my house was little, and my parents were asleep in the other room.

Please send the police now.

Such sad words. Such desperate words. Please now, please now, the little girl in Uvalde whispers into the phone while the police are asleep on the other side of the wall. How brave she is! And how goddamned polite! But no one can hear you whispering when you are in the middle of a nightmare. No one comes.

Please send the police now.

Those words remind me of another time I went looking for the police. Well, looking for the good guys, any good guys, the Army, the Navy, the Secret Service, the Search & Rescue Team. Surely someone was about to be dispatched to save me, to save the country, to save the world from tyranny and ruination. It was right after the presidential election of 2016. No one came then either.

Please send the police now.

These days you hear people decry the “politicization” and “polarization” of our public discourse. That’s bullshit. There’s no discourse. There’s hardly even any politics. What’s really happening is that we are killing one another, and not with words, not ideas, not policies or opinions, but with guns. Guns made for killing people, and lots of them, especially in 4th grade classrooms or churches or grocery stores. at concerts, in dance halls and a medical building in Tulsa. Really, people? Just try to convince yourself this is about the Constitution.

I don’t know what toxic sludge of rage, shame, hate, impotence, boredom and extreme self-loathing motivates a mass shooter. Nor can I fathom the pious defense of a weapon whose only purpose is slaughter. But it’s too late. Horror stories always end in horror.

A little girl is on the line. The call is coming from inside the house. And right now, in America, it’s the shooter’s house.

Photo by Rubén Rodriguez on Unsplash

fall

October 22nd, 2018    -    3 Comments

I had a long flight home last Monday. After landing at LAX I got a text from my husband saying there had been a bad windstorm while I was away. It had left the yard a wreck, the power out. So it goes with the Santa Ana winds, easterly gusts that whip up from the desert and mow their way to the coast. Hot and dry, Santa Anas ignite wildfires, allergies, insomnia, anxieties, anger and worse: conflagrations of the flesh and spirit.

Here, they mean days of hauling limbs and leaves from the ponds. The job, like the wind, is insistent. It must be done. And it gives gratifying results: stacks of tinder, mounds of muck. But as the surface of the water clears, it reveals the even uglier side of what’s beneath—the rot and sludge from years before. Things I never saw, work I never did.

“Isn’t it a shame that we have to go through this to see what a beautiful place this is,” a friend says while looking up. The wind has polished the sky into a perfect jewel glittering above the golden hills.

I’m not surprised by what falls to earth—it all falls—but by how much the world is made better for it.

This is the truth and a parable.

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