Thursday, July 06, 2006

long weekend

Last Sunday afternoon, there was a perfect breeze, so Peggy and I decided to walk along the Mystic River near the Medford/Arlington city line. We were having a lovely talk, sharing thoughts and personal challenges. We took a path off the main road to enjoy the woods a bit. As the path led us closer to the water’s edge, we stumbled upon a small group of teenagers hanging out. We didn’t want to disturb their party, so we followed a path that was up of the river, and then started back up the hill. Our backs were now to the waterfront when I heard a bang, then felt a sharp rock graze my left heel. I turned around to see two boys hustling away back to the group. Peggy and I exchanged a “whut thu…???” and kept on our way. Seconds later, a second rock was thrown, which hit a branch over Peggy’s head. The rock and part of the tree branch then fell straight down, hitting her left arm on the way, barely missing her skull. We looked at each other in total shock. Dude! We’re being stoned! We get to the top of the hill, away from the water and out of arm’s reach. We decide to back track to the car, this time staying close to the main road. As we walk, here comes this group sauntering up the hill shouting at us “your kind aren’t welcome here!” and other muffled comments. Peggy turns to look at them, I tell her to turn around, to not engage them. Peggy was still on her Sabbath high and wanted to talk with them about tolerance and peace. I guess I’m too cynical for that. When someone’s throwing rocks at me, I just figure they’re not too interested in anything I’d have to say.

Episodes like these help me remember how blessed I am to be able to call this a rare experience. All kinds of people living elsewhere, from backgrounds different than mine, suffer daily in this manner and with much greater severity. I’m a fortunate girl to have both a taste of it and only just a taste of it. I wish things were different for all of us.

Two days ago, I sat on the grass in front of MIT overlooking the Charles River and the Boston city skyline as the most amazing display of fireworks I have ever seen danced in time to the Boston POPS in front of a billion people. I was overwhelmed by the spectacle. It’s hard to describe the feeling. Those of you who have been know that there is no other fireworks show that compares to the Boston 4th of July extravaganza. And sitting with my friends, laughing and taking photos, I felt so profoundly blessed for all the generations of freedom fighters, and those who died for the right to feel equal.

America can be a big fat bully, an arrogant fool with big biceps and a flabby gut. We have a history of periodically shoving our fortunes, our ideology, or just our unmitigated brawn into the teeth of other countries (or even other Americans) expecting respect and honor, when maybe we have not been careful or respectful enough to deserve it. This is not a political piece, just stating some personal observations. Here’s another one - - an observation from two nights ago. This country has been blessed and prospered and set apart in ways like no other. This is a blessed nation. I am humbled to be born in this nation, and grateful. There are cities and towns FULL of good, decent people. They work hard, and are grateful for their freedom. And they also enjoy a good fireworks display every now and again. I was so happy to be among them, and proud of what we hold in common.

There are two Americas: the one that we see, and the one that everyone else sees. The one that throws stones at strangers because they can, and the one that cheers en masse along Memorial Drive for the glory of our nation’s birth. In either case, I have nothing but to walk back to my car and quietly thank God for the home I’ve been given.
This was such a lovely post, Mary. I admire your inner strength!
Yes, I totally agree we are truly blessed to have been born in the US!! The population of the United States represents only 5 percent of the world's population. So with those odds -- we better thank God we were part of the luckly 5 percent. I am glad you and your friend escaped unharmed - it could have easily been different. I know I sound like your mother!! Take care.
That is such a crazy (and scary) experience! I'm so glad that you got away safely and can be so philosophical about it.

And just so you know, we were probably like 100 feet away from each other on July 4th! Jason and I were standing on the Mass Ave bridge.
Meanies. It is experiences such as that, however, that broaden our thinking. I had pretty much the same feelings on the 4th. Mostly suprised at the sudden overwhelming feeling of patriotism. It just gets you like that.
Dude I would've started spouting out the mideival lingo.. "stand your graound men!!! HERETIC! HERETIC!! WITCH! WITCH!"

Were these like backwoods type folks?
P.S. My thoughts on the USA: More people are trying to get in than out. Must mean it's a special place we live in.
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