I am sitting on the back porch of a house overlooking Bon Secour Bay. The sun has just finished its morning routine, and the vibrant pinks and oranges it was producing just moments ago have faded away, leaving nothing behind but a bright and crystal clear September sky. An elderly oak’s long, gnarled branch, draped with generous amounts of Spanish moss, is making a perfectly imperfect arch over the view of the pier, with seagulls perched on each one of its pilings. They are just chattering away about something. I think I heard one of them say something about “Johnny Football.”
As you might have guessed, my husband, kids and I are on vacation this week, and enjoying Alabama coastal living at its finest. We have been planning this trip for months, obsessively searching different rental sites to find the perfect place to “get away from it all.”
That line has probably been used by every travel agency in the world at some point, and for good reason, but what is this horrible “it” from which we are fleeing?
Of course the “it” includes the ordinary stresses of everyday life that we all deal with — from work issues to family issues to just getting the kids up and out the door to school every day. Who knew packing a snack bag every day for a 4-year-old could be so stressful?!!
But there was a lot of other “it” I was ready to get away from this week as well. At least for a little while.
The mayoral race showed us not only some of the racial divides our city still struggles with, but also just how difficult it is for us to talk about “it.” And heartbreaking news reports detailing racial discrimination from the University of Alabama’s Greek system proved the problem isn’t confined to Mobile’s city limits.
You can drive yourself crazy thinking about “it.” Why is “it” still like this in 2013? What can we do to change “it”? If so many of us want “it” to change, why does “it” seem like “it” always stays the same? What can I do personally to change “it?” What can we do as a city? A state? Am I just going to ask all of these questions rhetorically and do nothing because the answers to “it” are too hard?
It terrifies me that most of us will answer yes to that final question not with an affirmative answer, but with inaction. But it does inspire me when I read stories of young girls standing up for their beliefs and leaving Alabama’s Greek system after witnessing this kind of discrimination. Those are the kind of actions that are going to change “it,” but they are being performed by far too few.
And the “its” just keep coming.
We have a congressional race going on right now, and I should probably be writing my entire column on it. But honestly, I just find myself really uninspired about “it.” Other than the guy who is asking his fellow candidates to sign a silly pledge against “homosexuals pretending like they are married,” there are some really solid choices, and I’m hopeful we will end up with one of them. But when you start thinking about how broken Washington is, will even the best and brightest of our candidates be able to fix “it?”
“It” just seems like an impossible feat for anyone.
Right now, the only sounds I am hearing from my make-shift back porch office are waves crashing into the bulkhead and seagulls arguing over how “Breaking Bad” should end, but right inside on the television screen there are live reports coming from DC that another gunman has gone into an office building with an assault weapon and killed and injured a bunch of people. Remember right after Sandy Hook, we were not going to let those precious children die in vain, we were going to do something to change “it.”
But we haven’t. “It” is just the same. Now more families are going to have to bury their husbands, wives, sons and daughters, and sadly these shootings are becoming so commonplace we are getting used to “it.”
As soon as I finish this column, I am going to spend the rest of this week not thinking about “it.”
The only things I plan to focus on are why we can’t seem to catch a fish (other than the fact we don’t know what we are doing) and how the only crab I was able to net so far was somehow able to pinch the “it” out of my finger. Yes, I was holding him the right way.
I will spend some time contemplating which frozen cocktail I would like next and what book and/or trashy magazine I am going to read and how I can make this trip perfect for my son, as this will be the first vacation he will be able to remember. He will have his own “it” to deal with soon enough.
It’s good to get away from “it” every now and then. Doing so allows us to come back with a renewed sense of purpose. And hope.
I’ll get back to “it” next week, but for now, I have a fish to catch.