I cannot even begin to describe what the past few days have been like for me. There are so many ways I could talk about this. I’m still not sure how or even if I want to yet. But, I feel compelled to say something. It is too historic not to.
Imagine being in the world and being able to appreciate and understand what was going on when George Washington was elected first president of the U.S. Or slavery ended. Or when Brown v. Board of Education was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Or the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Or when women were finally given the right to vote.
Except for the Brown decision and the Civil Rights Act, you see how few and notable (what an understatement!) and far between these things are.
Come to think of it, I could add to that list, or when the first black president was elected.
There are some things that when they happen, you just know they are historic and that it is going to create a sea-change. Friday June 26, 2015 was such a day for me.
I LOVE LIVING HISTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And I am blessed to have been living at a time when many, many things have happened that have profoundly changed history in some way, shape or form. Some come creeping in. Some come in with a bang, but you don’t know the significance of them at the time. And some…well…you just know when it’s happening that it’s one for the books.
When personal computers first came in, especially portable ones (hah! Portable?! In 1982 my Osborne weighed at least 30 pounds!), I knew they would be big. But, I was the only one I knew who both had one and thought so. I work in a male-dominated field and when I lugged my portable computer into the office, everyone gathered around my door. No one could imagine what I would ever want with a computer. But, I did. I dreamed of ditching the infernal drudgery of having to write an article by hand, give it to a secretary, complete with incessant interlineations and time lags, getting it back in typed form, physically cutting and pasting my changes as I read over it, giving it back for re-typing, then proofreading the typed version, making more cut and paste changes, and doing so ad nauseum. I immediately saw the value of being able to type my paper, electronically cutting and pasting as I went.
For my male colleagues, typing was women’s work since all secretaries were women, so they could not imagine a time when a computer would be of any value to them. I remember laughing to myself as computers became more and more popular and replaced typewriters, males sitting at their desks pecking away at a foreign keyboard. Since I was female (and thus presumed to one day be making a living as a secretary or clerical), at 15, I had typing in my high school curriculum—a factor for which I will be forever grateful. It was especially helpful in law school. ;-) But, when personal computers that we cannot now imagine life without first showed up, no one had a clue that they would one day be omnipresent. My male colleagues had no idea that they were looking at history as they crowded around my door. To them, it was just Dawn being the outlier she was regularly perceived to be.
Hah! I got the last laugh on that one, fellas! ;-)
I can also remember the first time I saw a laptop. I absolutely could not believe it would do what the store clerk told me it would do. By then I had moved on to a desktop with a larger screen. There was no way that entire desktop could be contained in this little thing I was looking at. The store clerk laughed at my reaction and actually allowed me to take it home over the weekend so that I could see it for myself and believe him. Enthralled that he was indeed telling the truth, I came back on Monday and bought two—–one for me and one for my partner. I had no idea that they would one day pretty much replace PCs. Again, history had crept in.
I’ve always loved electronics, so my kids were also the first ones to have these cute little things I found that turned out to be early versions of MP3 players. Awesome. Who knew we would one day all be carrying iPhones that would contain all of our favorite music in their version of MP3s? Or before that, a WalkMan? Or before that, a cassette player?
Having a man on the moon was one of those things that came in with a bang, and it was historic and interesting, and you knew it would change things in some way, but I didn’t perceive it as having any personal impact on my life.
Watching the election returns in 2008 and realizing around 11 p.m. that our next president would be black was a day you knew you lived history, but you weren’t quite sure what it would mean other than he had gotten elected. But, in the days to come, it was clear that even the folks who hadn’t voted for him or weren’t sure of what his presidency would be like appreciated that history had surely been made when we lived in a country that could go from slavery to a black president in 143 years.
Attending the March on Washington on August 28, 1963 as a 12-year-old was hugely historic, and you could say it went on with a bang, but I don’t think anyone there thought it would have the kind of lasting historical impact that it did. Nowadays when I mention to my students that I was there, it is as if something magic just happened. Like they saw Abraham Lincoln, or something. Even though it was big, we had no idea at the time that it would be the historic occasion it turned out to be.
But, Friday June 26, 2015? The day LOVE WON at the U.S. Supreme Court? The day my first black president sang “Amazing Grace” and told white America that racism didn’t have to be big, but could be deciding to call back Johnny for that interview rather than Jamal as he delivered the eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was killed on June 17 when a 21-year-old white man who had sat in Bible Study with black Mother Emmanuel AME Church members for an hour opened fire and killed 9 church members because he said he wanted to start a race war? That was one for the books. That was one you knew right then and there would make history. You knew that was a turning point for society. It is now Sunday and I am still processing it all.
It was a great day.
It was a great day to be alive. It was a great day to be an American. It was a great day to be black.
My epitaph, whether it is on a slab of marble or simply in the minds of those who knew me, will most assuredly say, “It’s ALL about LOVE…” I have one tattoo on my body. In the middle of my chest I have a Maori-styled heart that I got in Maui. Actually, after Friday, I’m thinking of getting another that says “Love wins.” For me, life is all about Love. Notice I capitalize it.
I am talking about universal love, not just romantic love. I’m talking about the way you go through the world and conduct each and every interaction you have. You do it with the knowledge that we are all human and we matter, even in the smallest ways. I’m talking about caring enough about others that you give them a smile rather than a frown, even if you don’t know them. I’m talking about Love that takes you through the world choosing to believe the best rather than assuming the worst, but being prepared for it to be otherwise. I’m talking about Love that makes it so that just today I spoke with each of my two former husbands and my former female partner (couldn’t get married then) and each of them was a warm, wonderful conversation, even tho our romantic relationships ended 35, 9 and 22 years ago, respectively. I mean a Love that lets me view people as spiritual creatures whose spirit matters most, rather than physical creatures whose hair, clothing or car I focus on. I have lived that truth all of my life and tried to get the message across by example.
In the end, it is Love that rules. Regardless of wars. Regardless of politics. Regardless of differences. In the end, it’s truly ALL about Love.
In its Obergefell v. Hodges ruling the Supreme Court of the United States realized this too.
As a lawyer, I am totally comfortable with its reasoning. I have the ability to be able to separate myself from what I want, and if the reasoning was not sound, then even though I might like the outcome, I would not be OK with it. But, it is. You will hear people say otherwise, but it is a legally sound decision. That matters to me a great deal. We live in a democracy. We all have to take turns winning and losing. I don’t like the idea of running roughshod over others to get where I want to go. This was not that. This was legally sound and imminently reasoned and reasonable.
And as someone whose longest relationship was with someone of the same gender and we raised three daughters together, for me the outcome was a good one. Especially when, upon hearing about the Supreme Court’s decision one daughter texted “Whooo Hoooo!!”. The second, “Holy f*** shit!!!!!” with emoticons of hearts, kisses and all variations of couples. And the third, “It must be so wonderful to see of your hard work pay off. Knowing you have come so far and no longer have to hide….how wonderful. F*** the closet. Now that’s where we can put the haters.”
Friday June 26, 2015 was a good day.