A Force To Be Reckoned With

Gini Gerbasi, a rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown (Washington DC), wrote a lengthy report on her personal Facebook page on 2 June 2020, right after the events in Lafayette Square.* She was shook up, having one minute been serving snacks to peaceful protestors and the next being driven violently from the park by tear-gas–wielding police. In the moment, she and the others had no idea what was happening.

(Not long after that, it came out that it all had to do with an awkward photo op for the fake president. You can read more about the events as reported by others in the Washington Post, New York Times, NPR, and the BBC.)

I loved her last lines: “… I got too scared and had to leave. I am ok. But I am now a force to be reckoned with.” And I said so on Facebook, finishing with “Pass it on: #aforcetobereckonedwith.” One of my friends left me a message that brought tears to my eyes: “Her last lines evoked you for me. <3” I just turned sixty-seven last weekend, I don’t have the stamina for walking city blocks anymore and can no longer keep up with anything like a peaceful protest (crowds make me uncomfortable), but by golly I can write, right? I’m trying to get my thoughts down as they happen, in the moment. In these historic days and weeks.

That very night a US senator** said on national television something like that: he’d been taking care of legislative business and wasn’t able to march in a local protest, and he acknowledged that at this time, for whatever reason (COVID19 not least among them), not all Americans who feel strongly about this cause can take to the streets. “The least we can do, though,” he said, “is not remain silent.”

And I will not.

* In which peaceful protestors had assembled and were just kinda taking it easy. With snacks. Until the cops arrived.
** Cory Booker, of whom I think very highly. Keep your eye on him.


Wanderlust Bites!

In my real life (as opposed to my travel daydream life) I edit books for a living, and I recently edited a wonderful book about a family who spent the better part of a year traveling around the world. (With young children! And it’s not science fiction!)

It inflamed my wanderlust. My wanderlust is off the scale right now.

The stories in the pages of the manuscript made me want to go places I have never, ever had any real desire to see. (China? No. Whiny music. Too much fish in the food. And, you know, evil empire. Someplace in Africa? No. Too hot. Special medical requirements. And I like my creature comforts. But the author made these locales sound appealing, interesting, desirable.)

Just look at this! There are a lot of places/things I’d like to see someday … (Photo from Wikipedia. Baobab trees.)

Just look at this! There are a lot of places/things I’d like to see someday … (Photo from Wikipedia. Baobab trees.)

The travelogue about the young family really moved me.

And this one too: An American couple who lived (separately) in Amsterdam, met, married, and had their child there, return after a stretch of years for a visit to a place they’ve loved well. They spend their vacation living along one of the canals in a home owned by friends. Which is the best way, really, to experience what a place is really like. A hotel can be very sterile, but a private home or apartment drops you right into the life of the place. This New York Times article is a lovely commentary on Amsterdam, and it makes me want to go.

Now, dagnabbit. I’m ready.

Then just this morning a good friend sent me a tweet. “What was the name of that book (from, like, two years ago) set during the war? You loved it.”

Now, I’m good, but I read a lot of books. “Ummm,” I tweet back. “What war?”

“Balkans, orphan girl, hospital, doctor woman—”

“Oh, of course!” The tweets are flying fast now. “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.” I loved that book. Loved it.

Turns out my friend had just spent two “magical” days “in DC in an Airbnb Georgetown flat hosted by the warmest, most interesting woman who lived through the Balkan war. If you and G ever get to DC, stay here! She is now an interpreter and expert in war-conflict resolution.” I read the comments in the link—the owner of the flat gets rave reviews.

Why the Marra? My friend wanted to “imagine her world.” Clearly this Airbnb host made quite an impression. And clearly this is a bedroom I need to sleep in, yes? I’m already wondering how soon we can start planning a visit to our nation’s capital. (We have a couple trips, short ones, already planned. Watch this space.)

In the meantime, I am trying to discern what it all means, the convocation of the manuscript, the article, the message from my friend, all in the space of a couple days. Since, you know, I can’t just quit work and take off every time I get bitten by the wanderlust bug!