East of here. Not so very far.
So, four of us went to the new Federal Courthouse (a massive, well-armed and rather paranoid Bauhaus construction to which one cannot cross the street from downtown -- "to prevent marches," someone laughed nervously) to talk with an aide to our Congressperson.
Steep, steep steps, designed to turn aside the wrath of Ryder rental trucks, guards (who radiated considerable Glock-ness), alarm gates, a left turn, another left, and there we were sharing out some peanut butter cookies, that we had brought, with the staffers.
Not with the unsmiling guards. They would have had to send them out to be tested for sheep-pox. As if anyone ever mailed sheep-pox to the executive branch. But I digress.
We were introduced to the aide, and each took our turn.
I told a capsule story of my life, beginning with my knowing who I was at age six and what I would have to do with myself someday (not knowing it would ever be possible, and yet knowing that I must); and reminded the aide that an inclusive ENDA protects at least three categories of people: trans, gay, and straight:
"Trans people are notable for transgressed gender signs, for which they are targeted.
"Gay people are sometimes noted for transgressed gender signs, for which they are then targeted.
"And straight-oriented, straight-identified people are occasionally mistakenly noted for transgressed gender signs, for which they are then targeted."
Whereas ENDA-Lite protects none of the above from the things which actually tend to attract discrimination:
"Gay people can hide. Transpeople, unless they have given up everything, wiped out all documentation and moved, and have an absolutely 'convincing' presentation, cannot."
And with the Real ID Act even this option will be taken from the few that had it.
The other three dwelt on the failure of incrementalism in our home town, while inclusive-up-front legislation has passed easily in other communities in our state, and has now passed at the state level itself.
We ended by reiterating that between the two bills, only H.R. 2015 comes close to being a just response to anti-LGBT bigotry in the workplace.
The aide was a sympathetic listener but, as one might expect, did not give away much about what is going to happen.
We thanked her and left.
As I was going, she put her hand on my sleeve, briefly, and thanked me for my story. It was more than I might have looked for.
Still ... exhausting.
I took the rest of the day off, went home, ate everything in sight, crawled into bed and pulled a blanket over my head.
The next day, I skipped out on assorted meetings for worthy causes and, grabbing my kayak, headed for the hills. Hence the photo above.
I went first to a favorite lake two miles into the local wilderness area. The colors at the lake were just -- stunning, as they were everywhere; we don't get this kind of October, here, especially above 5,000 feet elevation, with such bright sunshine and paddling about, in a tank top, and with butterflies dancing around one's head. But apparently now we do. The undoubtedly limited-duration silver lining of global warming. To which I contributed by driving to the trailhead. After a few hours, the mist had burned off the water, a chill breeze had whipped up, and other people were arriving, so I packed up and packed out, threw the boat in the back of the wagon, and freewheeled down off the mountain into the canyon, stopping at a favorite place along the river (photo above, again).
There has been enough rain lately to refill the aquifers above our mountain rivers, here, unlike the intense drought to the south of us in California and elsewhere in the West; the water beat like a thousand drums through the basaltic boulders scattered along the streambed. We can get a hydraulic minimum and maximum differential in these parts of 100,000 to one, so there are times when there is very little water in this river; other times it is thirty feet deep, tumbling the giant boulders like billiard balls.
In the spot where I sat, by the falls, with the wan sun on my shoulders and the cold reaching up from beneath me in the ancient, shaded stone, there was nothing to say and nothing to be said. I could sit there, if I like, and pull up my tank top and show the river my breasts, and say,"what?" -- if I so chose; the river would simply flow on. I stayed on, watching the shadows shift in the canyon, until my ears couldn't take the sound of the falls any more. I would have stayed for days if there was a way to do it.
All the water in the river might not be enough to wash the slime of politics from my soul.