I checked all the boxes during my month home in Humboldt: Friday Night Market, Farmers Market, Solstice party, Crabs Game, surfy surf surf, river days, forest hikes, family fun, friend love. My heart full, I launched back south to meet up with a photographer at Martins Beach; Norwegian Airlines magazine is doing a story on California beach access and needed pictures.
Sometimes – all the time – the sense of disconnect eats at me. This country – this world – abuses people, devours them. I work in politics. I believe in what I do. I believe the work I do matters. I still cannot reconcile that we – this country, this world – plough through our days as if the horrors caused by political policies lies somehow distant from us. The Facebook posts and Instagram messages and re-Tweets fuel outrage but not enough action to stop cruelty at our borders and beyond. I want us all to march on Texas, but instead I wait for a chance to vote, encourage the giving of money, of time, instead of one’s whole self. A decade of self-care boosterism provides cover for the lack of sacrifice; we go on news fasts to save our sanity while the people we’re not reading about continue to go hungry.
But I don’t know what to do besides work and care for my family and give money where and when I can, and so I pulled on my wetsuit and carried my board and smiled till my face hurt while the photographer directed me to look this way and that.
Then Thursday arrived and with it, a long-dreaded showdown in an Embassy Suites conference room with the Coastal Commission and enviros on one side, State Parks and off-road vehicle enthusiasts on the other. The ORV contingent showed up by the hundreds, asserted their territory with American and Confederate flags, giant trucks, flatbeds boasting dune buggies and ATVs. The line of flags gave way to a line of people flaunting Trump gear and T-shirts demanding we Make Pismo Great Again (no one had stopped the ORV riding – yet – so perhaps a bit preemptive). CHP and San Luis Obispo County sheriffs watched the entrance, patrolled the meeting room.
I wondered what the guests thought. Did they think they’d booked a room at a Trump rally? Did the Confederate flags give the guests pause as they drove into the hotel lot, their vacation suddenly marred by the symbol of racism past and present? The day stretched long long long and I thought violence might erupt, but instead the Commission postponed any real decisions for another day and the crowd dissipated without more than another death in the dunes that night and another on Saturday bringing the toll to six so far this year.
And then time flew and I rolled off 101 onto the Madaket and into the Shanty and over to the wedding of dear, dear friends and a river day at Broken Bridge –
– after washing off the river grit and before dashing off to the Social Club, I listened to the news clips, glanced at Twitter, remembered that we are in a time and country full of hate, where wanton destruction of our planet and neighbors seems a fair price to pay for being able to do whatever the fuck we want at all times. But what I want, at all times, is mostly health care for my people who may die from lack of it and for all of us to put ourselves, our bodies, on the line until everyone, everywhere, is fed, sheltered, safe.