Saturday, July 16, 2005

S.F. Bay Cruise with LaborFest -- big union event and a return to the "Being of the Reluctant Rosie" ...

A few weeks ago I accepted an invitation for a cruise on the Bay. I didn't realize at the time that this will involve union folks, historians, union people interested in the new national park, two other Rosies and moi. Learned of my "star" status when I ran across a flyer advertising the event.

Am having the usual mixed feelings about playing this role, but it's becoming less awkward for me -- and provides an opportunity to get folks to re-visit that period of history with the benefit of having now lived with the enlightenment provided by the social revolution of the Sixties. I've become a rather important part of the truth-telling brigade that may keep us from forgetting some important and painfully learned truths.

When will I ever have a chance, again, to spend 3 hours with members of previously segregated unions? Most of those I'll see tomorrow and interact with might have no idea of the nature of human relations in the workplace during WWII and, for some, the years following. Perhaps their unions are still not welcoming to non-whites (only more cleverly manipulated) -- and if only one or two can gain some understanding of and appreciation for a time before laws were changed and access won -- the afternoon will be worth the time taken.

Besides, I'm beginning to get a kick out of carrying this particular torch. And mostly because I find so few able or willing to express those painful truths. We do have a tendency to paper over the troubling parts of our past -- thereby risking the probability of having to relive that which we should have grown beyond long ago in some systematic way.

Am still very ambivalent about unions and the Labor Movement ... even when I have no idea what we could possibly have done without them. But the rank and file, after all, reflects all of the best and worst of the general population. It's easy to forget that in our zeal to add our voices to the Progressive power bloc, we may not be taking the necessary time required to consolidate our gains as African Americans. I sense that -- in this struggle for economic power and social equality in the time of yet another war -- something precious may be in the process of being lost.

This opportunity to raise important questions -- even when the answers remain beyond reach -- is one I shouldn't under-estimate; and I don't. Having a chance to do that on a Bay cruise on a lovely summer day is beyond expectations.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Death and the aftermath ...

I'm not sure that I have ever experienced such a long spell between entries. Not sure why that is, but this is not the best of times. So many changes to morph into some kind of undetermined future.

The events surrounding the death of Marionella churned up so much that I thought was buried forever in the past -- but, no. Despite the fact that most of those with whom I shared the early years have now passed on or are surely in no shape to wield hurts of any kind. Still, there is this corrosive quality that lingers on through the epochal events like funerals that brings one's past back in living color. It was like that. It's this intimately-connected but still distant collection of relatives who come together now only in these occasional "snapshots" provided by the need to memorialize one or the other of us whose life has now ended.

Despite triumphs over adversity and monumental problems overcome, in the chapel at St. Elizabeth-Seton Catholic church in Pleasanton on Wednesday morning all the good stuff was stripped away by the service (being conducted by our family priest of long standing -- someone I grew up with), and the vastly changed faces from my childhood of children now grown old. There I sat -- feeling all of the inadequacies I'd lived as a kid -- never quite being enough or doing enough or just not being enough like those around me. Long before I learned that it was really just fine to not fit the mold and that being different wasn't a punishable offense.

I suppose one of the reasons the loss of uncomplicated loving Marionella was so disturbing was that she was the non-judgemental open and warm kin who one never had to explain or apologize to or be anything more or less than one was. She asked only that. Her love and loyalty were unconditional. She gave so much. She's gone. Life will fold in around that fact and we will go on; of course. That's the process. Until the change comes that will take me with it... .

But now it's back to packing and storing and preparing for another huge change. Dorian is moving away, back into her own precarious life again; the life of the mentally disabled. I will busy myself with the physical parts of that and postpone the disturbing thinking parts until later on when I can give myself over to it fully. I'll then cry some and celebrate some, I'm sure. But between those extremes there will be a recurring of fears about her safety in an explosive world where innocence can be fatal to her survival. That's the big stuff. The small stuff is just where in the world can I cram all of her belongings now scattered around my condo into one small bedroom across town? If I can stay with that, I'll make it through the next few days.

Then it's back to work at the National Park Service in a week or so and back to weekend trips to Mendocino to his beautiful home at oceanside and sunsets and art shows and concerts and allowing my woman to rise above my mother -- before it's too late to bring her out again into the world.

Lots to juggle, isn't there?

But then when was there ever not ... ?