July 24th, 2012
Violence or Flowers, You PIck
How has May Day become a day of protest?
Today a middle-aged woman ran down a cul-de-sac'd street, under the watchful eye of tall firs guarding the neighborhood. That woman was me, worried I might slip on the wet wood steps of the neighbors as I hurried away to escape the answering of the doorbell I'd just rung. The flowers were from the grocery store, the one we all go to, but I'd bought several types and mixed them, and the cones that held them were made from construction paper, no different than my third-grade teacher taught us. I left a note on each, saying something nice I wanted them to know, that I'm too busy to stop and tell them during the week. I didn't slip on any wet stairs.
Ten miles away in my city of Seattle, protesters adopted black clothing and smashed what they wanted to. Then they changed their clothes and meshed with the crowd. They'd rung the doorbell and run, and this was the note they left our city.
The Slippery Slopes of Friendship
Yesterday marked the death of Jill Kinmont, 1956 Olympic hopeful skier, and I should've been able to call my longtime friend Anne to mark the occasion. I didn't call her though, because it's been seven years since we spoke, after thirty-four years of friendship.
Neither one of us are skiers. What mattered to us was Jill's life toted up in the 1975 movie "The Other Side of the Mountain" when Anne and I were in high school. It was our beloved favorite, in the way young girls have of attaching themselves to sentimentalized accounts. Hope and determination were the themes of the movie, the account of Jill's ski accident in Utah that left her largely paralyzed from the neck down.
Anne and I booed in the same scene every time, where the boyfriend saw nothing miraculous about Jill finally managing to get a potato chip from a bowl to her mouth. There was a fiercely loyal friendship we connected with ourselves, between Jill and fellow-skier Audra, who caught polio and ended up in an iron lung. And we melted as the crinkly-eyed Beau Bridges stepped in to own her heart, then we cried when he died in a plane crash.
The movie gave us belief in the triumph of women and that decent men would love us. It told us that obstacles thrown in our path could be overcome. We haven't spoken in seven years, and I'm not even sure why. I may have guesses, but they may be wrong. Whatever Jill Kinmont did to knock over the obstacles, Anne and I have yet to learn.
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