Thanksgiving is a week away.
It’s my favorite holiday (because FOOD) but I don’t think I can celebrate it any more, not now that I’ve been to Standing Rock. It’s one thing to know intellectually that white people have done shitty things to Natives. It is quite another to spend time on a reservation with them, stand in a prayer circle next to them, cook and eat with them. And hear their stories.
You start to see things differently.
European immigrants, possibly some of my ancestors, participated or at least benefitted from genocide many times worse than the Holocaust. As I look around me at improbable shopping malls in the desert and highways that cut through what once was open land, I try to imagine what life was like before white people came here.
I can forget the horror in my daily life because it’s not in my face but Natives can’t forget, no more than African Americans can forget the suffering of their slave ancestors, suffering that still continues.
I want to run away from this knowledge and hide in the hills, eat my turkey and wait four years for this new horror to end. It would be easy to do, at least for a while. All I’d have to do is delete Facebook and all news sources from my phone, and somehow resist the urge to check them on my laptop.
Yeah, real easy.
I am camped with about twenty vandwellers in the desert near Lake Havasu City, AZ for the month of November, fixing up our vans together as part of my friend, Jamie Dimon’s first annual Build Out Your Van Party. Some people are getting solar panels installed, others need help building beds, still others are getting shower set-ups. I’ve already got solar so am waiting my turn for Jamie to install a vent fan in my roof to keep it comfortably cool in the sun. Meanwhile, I plan to pull everything out, clean, and reorganize.
In camp, nobody talks politics. You would almost think they don’t know what happened last week. It’s a weird-but-nice break from all the bad news I addictively follow online in my van at night. No one talks about nonviolent revolt or contacting our representatives or even wearing a safety pin.
Sometimes, around the campfire, I am tempted to ask if they know about these things but that would break the spell.
Scout doesn’t care. She is having the time of her life, playing with the other dogs and mooching treats off their owners.
The weather has finally cooled off. There is a harsh beauty to this place that is a lot less harsh when it’s not hot.
It would be idyllic, if only last week hadn’t happened. If only.
Now I need to find a way, as a writer/nomad, to be part of the solution. Not sure yet how that’s going to shake out but I will be talking about it as I go along. Stay tuned.
p.s. If you are happy about the election results, you might not enjoy reading this blog any more.
p.p.s. Totally different subject: Christmas is coming, too fast. I am in the midst of revising a short memoir called The Red Feather Christmas Tree, a true story from my childhood. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I will have it up on Kindle in a week or so. If you’d like a free preview, let me know and I will send it as soon as revisions are completed. Thanks!