Life on the Line

Our dryer broke. So we bought a new one but it was too wide for our 100-year old back door, a fact we knew but forgot, and so we are doing without until we buy a skinnier dryer. Well, we aren’t doing without, my husband is. He does most of the laundry. It’s his thing.

He’s been drying the laundry by draping it various places – the porch railings, the lawn chairs, the fence, and my car. I went outside this afternoon to see one leg of my pajama bottoms laid out on the trunk of my car while the other leg dangled in the breeze like a girl waiting for her date to come back with the popcorn at a drive-in movie. I remember that careless look.

The towels go over the fence in the backyard. When they are dry, they are like giant pieces of construction paper to be folded and creased with both hands. Using them makes us feel historical. This is what our forebears used, right after they stopped using pine boughs to dry off. No wonder they were so tough and we are so soft. We must have fabric softener lest something be too rough for us. I’m embarrassed that if our dryer hadn’t broken I’d never have had this realization.

I watched the Packers play Cincinnati today, heard about their delicate handling of the kneeling business with a few players kneeling and the rest linked arm in arm. I’m glad the NFL has mobilized about something besides more airtime but I’m astonished really at the folks who want to equate kneeling with revolution. So many people have done so much in our country to protest injustice; people have taken their lives in their hands and not figuratively.

If I needed reminding I got it tonight by watching Ken Burns Vietnam, Episode 6. Americans who protested the War in Vietnam and those who protested the vast racial inequalities in our country risked their lives. There were battles between police and protesters that involved great injury and bloodshed. The 1968 Democratic convention protest in the streets of Chicago, the takeover of Columbia University, the riots after Martin Luther King was killed, if you don’t watch video of those things happening, you don’t get it. We used to have a pure fury for justice. My God, I thought tonight, people really put themselves on the line. They went where there were lead pipes and no rules. White and black, both. I don’t yearn for those days but I yearn for that passion.

Now we have soft towels and kneeling in protest. Both are better, I guess, than the roughness of the past. But we would do well to find that fury for justice again. I’d forgotten about it but tonight I was reminded.


Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

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