Independence Day

So, yeah, awful couple of weeks for the country. I am torn – part of me wants to go to every protest and throw lots of money at all the causes, but mostly I’m like, “I really don’t have emotional room or energy to tackle any of this right now”. Let me build my own new foundation – I’m sorry, but that’s kind of what I need to do right now. My own oxygen mask on first and all that. Eventually I can do the volunteering and the donating and so on.

For the record, re Roe v. Wade, I am completely pro-choice. Not sure that the opinions of a cis man who cannot gestate, has never fathered or parented and has no intention of having children has a lot of weight here, so skip ahead if you’d like. So let’s just take a look at a couple of issues. First, no matter how healthy a woman (or ‘a person who can gestate’) is and ‘made for babies’, pregnancy affects the body and changes it forever. You are hosting a living being. Just the gestation and birth is a huge commitment with costs, and undetermined possible bad outcomes. No one should be doing that against their will. (I strongly recommend reading Elie Mystal’s Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution. It clearly lays out the case why choosing any path other than letting a woman decide what’s happening with her own body makes a woman less than a citizen and free person.)

Second, parenting and raising (as opposed to merely producing) a child is perhaps the most important (and most difficult) job anyone can do. Ideally, no one should be a parent unless they (a) have the resources to raise the child with adequate food, shelter and child care and (b) have the inclination to do so. No having kids because you think it’s the thing to do. Have a child because you want to be a parent, knowing that it’s going to be grueling and difficult and never ever stop.

I know this is unworkable but I do read a lot of science fiction and I’ve always been a fan of the ‘contraceptives in the water’ idea – set it up somehow so by default, you can’t have children, unless you take some sort of action to circumvent the contraception. In the world where I am king, no one has children without a license and training.

Yes, I realize there is still a moral issue, particularly for those who believe (as I do not) that the fetus is a living human being right from the get-go. It’s not an easy issue. But if you are presented with a philosophical challenge, sort of like the trolley problem, where either Person A (the mother) is ruined or Person B (the child) is ruined, why would you choose the child over the mother? (argh, as I type this, I realize how cold this is going to sound, but that’s the point, isn’t it, these discussions are tough) Society has already invested in the mother, and the mother is already a person with hopes, dreams, personhood. The child is (at most) a blank slate. I would argue that to choose the child automatically over the mother implies a whole structure of pre-existing attitudes that imply that the mother is somehow worthless.

Well, we could go on and on here, but bottom line is I’m horrified by that Supreme Court decision in particular, and am hoping that the blowback from it swamps the election process and sets us up so we can actually enact real life-saving pro-choice legislation.

I’ve seen a lot of chatter this week about the possible inappropriateness of celebrating Independence Dad this year. Actually, you could make that argument almost every year. I’ve never been a fan of jingoism – saying “our country is the best” just because it’s ours, and stopping there, is deluded and helps nothing. My very intelligent friend Erik pointed out this week that “My country, right or wrong.” was colored by Carl Schurz with “ if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” Exactly. Our country is like our family home. We love it and what it represents and the history there, but to ignore the slates falling off the roof or the gutters that need to be cleaned is foolhardy. We need to maintain our country, to improve it. Always.

At some point this week, when “Independence Day” was mentioned, I turned to the studio portrait of Charles in his college graduation outfit which is now on the piano, and said, “I don’t think this was the independence I was looking for”. There is no denying that there are freedoms to being single that you voluntarily give up when you’re in a committed relationship. And I have every intention of taking advantage of them, when I’m ready. But it’s not a trade I would have made voluntarily. I loved being married, I loved being in a committed relationship. Not because of what ‘marriage’ brings to your life in terms of stability and societal respect and safety (although those are nice), but because it was him. The magic of two strangers meeting each other and realizing (very quickly in our case) that we resonate with each other so strongly that of course we need to join our lives together and see what happens next – that is something magical and wonderful and not-to-be-expected and random and if it happens to you, do not throw it away.

So yeah, I’m “independent” now, I guess. And that’s going to benefit me in a variety of ways. But it’s not the hand I wish I was dealt.

What else? This was a ‘normal’ week in terms of just pushing house stuff forward and going to work. I keep waffling between ‘oh, I can go to a Broadway show any time I want’ and “jeez, everyone I know is getting COVID right now”. Sure, I’ve already had COVID and it wasn’t awful, but who knows what it’s going be like the next time – or how many people I’d infect before realizing I had it again. So yeah, needing more people and companionship than I did before, but wary about some ways to make that happen.

The apartment and paperwork continue to get more organized. Nothing is urgent any more, I can take some time off and also just take my time with stuff.

I’m treating myself to dinners out fairly frequently, but am now getting to the point where I realize I can and should be pickier. I ended up last night at Romeo’s, JH’s nicest Italian restaurant, but they had some sort of party going on with an Elvis impersonator doing his schtick and while he wasn’t bad, it was loud and not at all the dining atmosphere I was going for. Why didn’t I just turn around and find somewhere else? Because I had it in my head that I wanted Italian and wasn’t keeping open to other possibilities or a reasonable evaluation of what was actually happening rather than what was in my head. OK, so lesson learned. (Food was good. But pricey.)

Today is the ‘Eric recharge day’, except I still need to do more paperworky type of stuff. I’m going to the cemetery this morning for a visit, then breakfast out and will head leisurely home. If I get fed up with paperwork, maybe I’ll go to the movies. And I have hot dogs and potato salad for tonight. May go up to the roof to watch the fireworks, haven’t done that in years.

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