Sunday, April 5, 2015
The shared hotel room was great, except I had nowhere to go. Age, inclination and habit had combined in powerful force and transformed me into someone who awoke not merely early but ungodly early: Especially ironic as today was Easter Sunday. “He has risen,” wasn’t supposed to be funny nor about me.
Shawn was asleep in our bed, looking childlike in her repose, and I was determined not to disturb her. I managed to fall back into fitful slumber which I slipped in and out of for nearly two hours. I finally gave up on sleep, as all I was really accomplishing was nothing, an achievement which seldom pleased me, and took my laptop into our bathroom and checked messages. There was a lovely e-card from Jodi wishing me a Happy Easter, which I thought was generous of her as she seemed to have thoroughly cast off all vestiges of Christianity and had become one of those millennials who thought of herself as ‘spiritual, not religious;’ a state of being which suited her loveliness quite well.
I was no Fundamentalist, no Bible happy Rapturist, but my worship and world view were book-ended, supported and shaped by the Catholic training I had received in the 1950’s. Even though consciously I believed little of the indoctrination of my early childhood there was no denying that it was those beliefs that formed my core for better and for worse. “Up before The Son has risen,” I wrote in response to Jodi’s greeting.” I hope our day is filled with peace, joy and love. Fat chance! Climb every mountain. Call me later. Happy Easter, Earth Angel.”
The hotel had a fitness room, small swimming pool, and -halleluiah!- a Jacuzzi hot-tub. I decided to avail myself of some low-key, low impact, low excitement cardio training on their elliptical machine and after 45 minutes of a boring workout made tolerable only through the aid of a ‘Serial’ podcast episode, I threw in the towel and crossed the hall to the swimming pool. At minutes after six thirty the sun was trying to leave its nighttime tomb and I used my room key to gain access to the hot-tub. Removing my socks, shoes and shirt I took a perfunctory shower and slipped quietly into the tub’s warm, wet, womb like embrace.
It was pleasant to be alone with myself, alone with my thoughts and not be haunted by mental demons.
I had set the hot-tub’s bubble timer to fifteen minutes and when the Jacuzzi reverted to merely hot-tub I walked to the empty pool and did a low surface dive from the first step of the easy access entrance. I swam the short distance from one of the pool to the other, stood, smiled and climbed out of the cold water and grabbed a towel. At just after 7:00 Shawn would consider the time an affront to Sunday morning etiquette but my patience with morning wasting was nearing an end and I decided to return to our room and prepare for our day quietly, but without too much concern for any ambient noise that I created in the performance of my morning ablutions.
Two flights of stairs later I was back in room 301 and after slipping into dry pants was trying not very hard to be quiet. “Daddy. What time is it?” Shawn asked from the room’s bed.
“Your grandfather Carl would say that’s it’s going on eight o’clock, which would be truthful but misleading,” I answered. “It’s about seven fifteen, time to get moving princess.”
“Daddy. It’s too early.”
“Sooner we get moving the sooner you can see Taylor,” I reminded her. Oh. And Happy Easter.”
She scowled at me from her pillow, inhaled deeply, released her breath with force and responded with the single affirmation of, “Fine,” and crawled out of bed. “Happy Easter to you, too. And it’s still too early,” she added as she made her way to the bathroom.
It was eight o’clock before we were ready to descend to the lobby and eat breakfast. We began in easy steps to break our fast with coffee, juice and milk. “Daddy,” Shawn asked after her first mug of coffee, “what do you think about this religious freedom bill trouble they’re having in Indiana?”
“I don’t know much about it. Why?”
“Just wondering. Isn’t your friend Jodi from Indiana?”
“Well, she used to live there. Her ex-husband is there and so’s their son. She might know something about it.”
“No, it doesn’t matter. How do you feel about people discriminating against others?”
“Well, peanut, that’s a hard question. My gut reaction is that it’s wrong. Like I said, I haven’t really been keeping up, but the flack seems to be that folks are hiding behind religion to deny people services, to discriminate, as you said. Without knowing the details that really bothers me.”
“Does it bother you because it’s wrong or because they’re discriminating against homosexuals?”
“What do you mean, Daddy?” she asked with head down and to the side, looking at me through the top right corner of her eyes.
“You know what I mean. I know we haven’t talked about it but it was pretty clear you and Portia were more than roommates. What if Nazis were being denied services? Would that be okay?”
Incredulous, Shawn asked, “You knew about me and Portia?”
“Sweetie, I’m old, I’m not stupid. You two shared a bedroom when you had an empty one. What else was I supposed to think?”
“You never said anything.”
“Like what? ‘Hi, sweetie, nice to see you. Are you a homosexual?’ You are my daughter. Portia is a lovely, strong, intelligent woman. Was I pleased? No. As I said, I’m old. When I was growing up homosexual acts were illegal. When I was a young man the APA, the American Psychological Association, downgraded homosexuality from a psychosis to a neurosis and now it’s just part of the sexuality spectrum. That’s a big change, isn’t it? “
“Does it bother you?”
“Does what bother me? The change? No. Not intellectually. Intellectually I embrace it. I’m proud to live in a State that acknowledged same-sex marriage early on. That embraces equality. Tyranny against minorities is abhorrent. Was I pleased that you were in a same-sex relationship? Let’s just say that I’m glad you’re with Taylor now. He is a strong, intelligent, lovely young man, even if I did kick his ass in the Warrior Challenge. What I want is you to be happy, healthy and strong. The rest is details.”
“You know I kicked your ass in that race, too right?”
“Sure, sure. But I’m old.”
“And I’m a girl.”
“That’s so sexist,” I answered with a wink. “No. Hiding behind religion, especially as codified by the State, is wrong. We don’t allow human sacrifice, denial of service to blacks, or any of another exemptions from basic human behavior simply because somebody’s twisted view of God says that some group should be treated differently, worse, than the majority.
“Hey! How do I feel about Right to Life?”
“You are very against abortion,” she answered.
“Yes. But Right to Life is much bigger. I’m opposed to the death penalty in almost all cases and a litany of other related issues. But there are people who claim to be Pro-Life that bomb clinics, murder, execute as enemy combatants doctors who offer elective abortion. People that are warped, twisted and wrong. They can’t hide behind their religious convictions and murder. Denial of service is the same logic, just a milder example.”
“What was that about Nazis?”
“Oh. When I was in college in Michigan a bunch of sick skinheads wanted to march through a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Chicago. Skokie. Big legal battle. I caught a lot of flak because I know they should be able to march. Sick speech, hate speech, idiotic speech is protected. Unless people are actively causing harm to others we have to let them be. Nazis, clan, gays, evangelicals. But we can’t let them restrict others, either.”
“Are you comparing Nazis to gays?”
“What do you think?”
“Then don’t throw straw-men, all they tend to do is add fuel to a fire. The majority doesn’t get to deny services to minorities. That’s what I’m saying. Whose ox gets gored shouldn’t be the important part of an argument.
“Hospitals used to deny services to minorities once upon a time, so did schools. They claimed it was their ‘right.’ There’s nothing ‘right’ about it.
“People have rights, whether I am uncomfortable with what someone espouses or does doesn’t mean the majority can treat them like pariah. So whether someone is in a lather over homosexuality, or whether it’s the warped, twisted, evil children in the case of the Nazis, people still have rights. Hate is not the answer.”
“No. I guess not. Uhmm, about Taylor?”
“What about him?”
“Oh. Nothing. I’m glad you’re getting to know him. He is a wonderful human being and I think the more you get to know him the more surprised, and impressed, you’ll be.”
“Seems true so far. I’m hungry, let’s eat.”
“Okay, Daddy. Thanks.”
“Thank you, sweetie.”
We were back in Rapida Cedro a little after noon and Shawn asked me to drop her off directly at Taylor’s rather than driving her home first. I exited on Blairs Ferry Road and Taylor was waiting for us at his place just off C Avenue. “Good afternoon, Taylor,” I said to him through my open car window. “Nice to see you again.”
“You too, John,” was his easy reply. “Shawn said the ceremony was lovely?”
“Can’t argue with that. I’ll leave you two alone. Nice to see you, Taylor. Shawn, I love you.”
Her responding smile made my heart feel two sizes too large and she kissed Taylor’s cheek and said to me. “I love you too, Daddy. Thanks for the talk.”
“Anytime, precious. Be good, you two. Happy Easter.”
“Happy Easter, John,” Taylor said with a wave and soon I was home and alone.
Home alone no longer bothered me and I got to work adding a few chapters to my novel when my phone rang and the caller ID told me it was Jodi. “Heavenly day, it’s my desert flower! How are you Earth Angel?”
“Happy Easter, John! Exhausted. And flying high. Just got back from Mount Charleston. Spent the day communing with nature. And some carabineers and nylon rope! What a day. How was your day? Sweet, I hope.”
“Oh, yeah. Still feeling a little high from last night’s Mass. It was lovely to see Jamie embrace Max’s, I mean ‘our,’ faith. I hope it brings her comfort.”
“Me too. Oh my, gosh! I wish you could have been with me today! The climb was fantastic. Hard work followed by huge rewards. The view was incredible.”
“How were the Wiccan warlocks?”
“John. You know that isn’t funny, right?”
“Then why do you smile every time I say it?” I asked mischievously.
“Because I’m a bad girl. Will Daddy have to spank me?”
“At least. I’m glad you had a good time. Six weeks and you’ll be back in my arms. I’m counting down the days.”
“Me too, John. I think my visit will be great.”
“No doubt. Hey, I had a conversation about you with Shawn today.”
“Oh yeah? What about?”
“Discrimination and Indiana. She has her panties in a wad about that stupid freedom of religion insanity the governors running in circles over. Wanted to know how I feel.”
“How do you feel? And how was I involved?”
“She knows you’re from Indiana. And as I told Shawn, what I know about it makes me ill. People hiding behind their moral beliefs to act immorally. Just what our once great nation needs to regain her place in the world, huh?” I asked feeling every ounce of sarcasm that dripped from my lips.
“Yes. Sad day for Indiana. I’m glad she was thinking about me, though.”
“Oh, yeah. I also found a chance to talk to her about her former relationship with Portia, her old ‘roommate?’ I told her I’d always love her but that I was glad she was seeing Taylor now instead of a woman.”
“Be careful, John. You don’t want to alienate her.”
“No, no. I was careful. I really praised Taylor. And I was sincere. The boy is growing on me. Like a fungus.”
“Sometimes you just don’t know when to quit, do you?”
“Nope. But I don’t think this morning was one of those times.”
“Well,” she replied, “I hope not. Listen, I was just checking in. I haven’t even showered yet. I’m going to let you go. We’ll talk soon, okay?”
“You got it, gorgeous. Take care.”
“You too. Bye, sweetie.”
I replied with, “Bye,” and then laughed. “Yeah, I guess that may be the term for it. Whatever. Love is love. Watch over my children, will you, Lord?” And with that I got back to work on my novel.