Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Doves

Severe storms delivered a sucker punch to my tornado stricken city today.

In a mass demonstration of inanimate fatalism, hundreds of skyscraper windows leapt from the safety of their casings and plummeted to the sidewalk leaving the streets covered in sparkling shards of glass.

Driving home from an afternoon meeting, I saw
people of all kinds standing in the rain holding anti-war signs on a street corner.

I stopped at a red light and looked around at my fellow commuters. Most of them seemed oblivious to the protest on the sidewalk.

I wondered if the protesters felt ignored.

A young, African American woman in a bright, orange rain coat held up a sign that said,

"No Torture."

Her message reminded me of that photo of a hooded Iraqi prisoner trying to comfort his visiting son and a post I read offering a detailed explanation of the practice of waterboarding.

I remembered both making me feel completely hopeless.

I honked my car horn and the young woman in the orange coat looked over at me.

I waved and gave her the thumb's up.

The smile that tore across her face lit up the grey afternoon.

It was contagious and spread to my face so quickly I barely knew what hit me.

We held each other's gaze for a moment grinning like idiots, connected.

The traffic light turned green and I drove towards home wearing a smile so big it made my head tingle.

It felt like hope.




44 comments:

crazymumma said...

I had just clicked over to the photo, one I had seen before but had stored far back in my memory as one of the most horrific images I had ever seen...felt...been kicked in the guts by.

When my very small six year old came downstairs crying for her dad who she wanted to cuddle very badly. He has been extremely busy at work. As I passed her little weeping body to him and she put her head into his shoulder, I was deeply and eternally thankful for the safety we have.

hope is good.

Amy Davis said...

I was downtown today too, but missed the protesters. Wish I had spotted them. I would have honked long and hard!

zellmer said...

I was about to write a post about how I have to pack my two kids, still in diapers, and drive them to Dallas tomorrow for Easter weekend. I was going to pontificate the reasons this stresses me out to no end. Now I'm reminded of how trivial my problems are, in the grande scheme and all. Thanks for sharing that story. It's a nice reminder.

FENICLE said...

Sometimes I find hope in places I never dreamed of. Thanks for sharing.

liv said...

it's been rough in our neck of the woods, eh?

Geologychick said...

The contagious smile has spread to California... thank you! Smiles!

jen said...

that's because it IS hope. because it begins with exactly this.

Jennifer said...

I have been the protester on the corner, largely ignored. It can begin to feel hopeless, there, after a while. The connection you made today is what makes all of the difference. Go, you.

I wrote about Hope today, too, in a round about way.

It must be spreading, this hope thing. The idea gives me the goosebumps.

the mama bird diaries said...

What a beautiful moment of connection between two people...

And that picture is just unbelievable

April said...

We can use all the good news we can get. Doesn't get much better than 2 strangers smiling and connecting!

urban-urchin said...

that picture makes me so very very sad. Hope is contagious- that's what's so great about it.

Hope you guys are spared more bad weather.

Blog Antagonist said...

It's nice, when we connect with one another, just for a moment, isn't it? Even nice when that connection is hopeful.

deb said...

I hope it ends soon too.

carrie said...

Right there with ya -- connected.

colorbox said...

it is an unstoppable wave that is building momentum. it is global, it is inevitable...and it is coming our way.
I love it! Thank you for posting this....it is so well written, and such a good reminder.

have you seen this?
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/229

Kelley said...

I can't stop looking at that photo. And I feel a physical ache.

I showed it to my daughters and one actually had a tear in her eye.

Lets hope the next generation have learnt from the previous generations terrible horrific mistakes.

mike vogel said...

If we keep going down this path, soon we'll be waterboarding our children as punishment.

Oh, wait, I already did that.

Mimi said...

It's kind of amazing what kind of relief and comfort smiling and the simplest human contact can bring, huh?

Omaha Mama said...

Oh now you've made me cry.

motherbumper said...

We are the some of the ones who will make the difference - or at least I'd like to think that. We are raising the ones that will make the change (oh please let that be true).

Circus Kelli said...

I love it when hope and smiles sneak up on us like that!

kittenpie said...

Oh. OH. I had not seen that photo before. Talk about a sucker punch. Now I'm crying at work. Your protesters were on our news, though, you might be happy to hear.

yummysushipajamas said...

I love this post for a lot of reasons, but I have to say that my favorite moment in it was this:

"In a mass demonstration of inanimate fatalism"

That is some brilliant, image laden writing right there. I am so jealous I didn't think of it.

Jerseygirl89 said...

We could all use a little more hope.

Day Dreamer said...

I've never seen that picture before. My heart just sunk.

I love the huge bits of emotion trading that we do with total strangers sometimes.

Come on election.....this country is in dire need of change!!!

nutmeg said...

...and now to mine! Here's to baby steps!

Laura said...

wow...I have no words to comment on the photos..just wow...and how glad I am that you found peace and a way to display your stand. I do not support the war...but I try to support the troops...what a world we live in...I pray for peace.

Jenifer said...

That photo stays with you and what is worse for me is imagining the moment when they did finally take the boy from him. How on earth does a little child comprehend something like that?

Jess, for all your hilarity and family tales you really have a wonderfully deep soul.

Nancy said...

Those moments when we connect with a stranger, without saying a word, but knowing our thoughts are in sync, are wonderful. Too bad they couldn't have a domino effect.

Worker Mommy said...

I love your interaction with the woman and the effect it had on you both.

Awesome!

Rosie said...

I would certainly have given them the thumbs up too.

Aliki2006 said...

Oh, that IS hope!

Perfect.

Chantelle said...

Beautiful!

OHmommy said...

I have never seen that picture before and my heart just literally sank.

Wow.

foop said...

What an amazing leap from stark, brutish inhumanity to the spark of hope. I read this a few hours ago and have had a warm feeling in my chest ever since.

Namaste' - the light within me bows to the light within you.

Jennifer said...

Hope is powerful.
Beautiful post - thank you.

kevin said...

It was hope.

MamaGeek said...

I felt this post in my left aorta. Very well done!

blue milk said...

Man, you write beautifully.

Traceytreasure said...

These moments warm my heart. I love connecting with strangers in a wonderful way. It makes my day, week and month sometimes. It reminds me how we are all so very similar. Most of us anyway! I love doves too. I'm always in awe of their beauty! Thanks for the comment you left me! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Minnesota Matron said...

I've experienced similar moments (and also huddled in a basement while a tornado destroyed my house - so your town has my sympathies).

In addition to those political kind of moments when you meet a stranger in the eye, I had the oddest moment when I was in my twenties and a man, probably two decades older than me, gave me the once over.

And he looked me in the eye, smiled and said: "You just look beautiful, inside and out, and yor good glow made my day."

And as we were looking at each other, I saw that he meant it in the way youth is beautiful, the way a woman in love is beautiful--and he saw me accept the compliment, happy.

GRAY MATTER MATTERS said...

My first thought when I heard about the tornadoes in Atlanta was of you. I thought about trying to contact you to make sure you and your family were ok. I know, a little weird. Strange thing this "blogosphere," but I feel like you are my friend. I do hope y'all (all I speak of Suthun') are doing well.
The other part of your post was touching and I agree with zellmer, it does put things in perspective.

lisawho? said...

I've been on her end and I can totally understand the good feeling a honk and a thumbs up gives. She probably really appreciated the connection, huh?

You did good, kid!

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

I always honk at the protesters and wave my fool head off to offer support. Of course I feel lazy for not actually joining them, but I sure appreciate their efforts, out their holding signs on those gray streets.

And the second paragraph about the glass leaping was REALLY beautifully written, Jess.