Moon in Capricorn

Danny often told me, during our infrequent conversations usually initiated by his drunken phone calls from whatever bar or party on his end, how much he still and always loves my mother. Like he is for her, Celia is Danny’s one true soulmate. He explains plaintively, perhaps hoping for my absolution, he was no good for her. He excuses his weakness by embracing it. He was not cut out to be responsible, to settle down, to fit into an ordinary life as she seemed to need to feel secure.

He may be little better than an indentured pet to Gwen, but she does know enough to let him wander on his short leash, to not make demands beyond simple rules, to keep him benignly distracted with new scenes and exciting people, fun, fun, fun for all her children while she basks in their attentive glow. She didn’t take him away from us. She was his convenient excuse and meal ticket.

I wonder, though, all those dramas, miscommunications, assumptions about what was important, even urgent, back then, how meaningful any of that has turned out to be. Neither of their lives apart were fulfilling or magical as their time together. Could they have found a better solution had they been thinking clearly without clouds of guilt and shame, perceived self-inadequacies? They could have created within their relationship byways for their separate paths, separate adventures, to then store in familial framework of their own making.

Wanting differently, using different strategies, coming from different experiences does not mean working at cross purposes, does not necessitate contention or contradiction. Engaging with those of other perspectives and methods can give us all more to work with for more pervasively useful results. If we could start from a base of respect for ourselves and each other, with a true will to work out what we must so everyone’s interests, needs, concerns are addressed, the results could well be so much better than ever anticipated. Expanding borders, making room for everyone involved, we can create better models, better blueprints, better structures, projects, lives. Privately, unilaterally, deciding based on individual weaknesses and fears you get bicoastal misery instead of mutually nurturing caring family, untraditional as it may turn out to be. Tradition has its place, which is not about getting in the way of the urgent now. Tradition is better as a practical garment that can be altered to fit than a one size fits all straitjacket.

Celia wants to vote, no matter the lines. At least there’s no snow in the forecast. I registered here once I knew I would be staying through the election. Celia did succeed in inculcating a sense of civic responsibility in me. She does not take her right to vote for granted. She informs herself about the issues and candidates, even for local elections. She’s the one who told me that local elections are where democracy is most likely to be effective in everyday lives. All those little local decisions about the public services we use all the time are the outgrowth of local politics. The big national stuff is mostly out of the realm of real democracy. We elect people thinking they can do what no one really can, especially not government.

People in this country act like there are only governmental services, policies, projects and profit-making businesses selling their products and services. Yeah, there is that private family and social life sphere where we do each other favors, help each other out voluntarily without legal coercion or profit motive. It seems to me that we forget the very important nongovernment, noncapitalist civil sphere. The old concept of the public square is a place where we meet not only as marketplace to buy and sell our wares or to exchange political harangues or make social connections. We come together as members of a civic community to work out solutions our perceived common problems, to indulge in civic pride with beautification projects and cultural opportunities. Community self-interest is best at providing enhanced educational programs and otherwise generally improving the conditions in which we all live together. It makes sense that if each little community were well loved and cared for by civic minded participants, the whole country would prosper.

Celia has not had much in the way of community in that sense for most of her life. She keeps herself informed. She votes. On occasion she writes out her opinions on issues she has particular concerns about, sends letters to newspapers and political representatives. Her concern to make me aware of politics grew out of the more activist role she and Danny and their friends took in protesting anti-Vietnam, pro-Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, for all late 60s/early 70s era. I have a more educated understanding of the political structure and realities of this country than I see evidenced by most of public opinion. So many people screaming out on the airwaves, the internet, in public and private, show they have no idea of how this country’s government is designed or meant to work. They just want laws to tell everyone to do or not do whatever their moral codes or economic prejudices assure them is the proper course. There is no talking to them rationally, no swaying them with facts, certainly not compassion. They know what they know; they’re right. Anyone differing is wrong. In this sense I hate politics.

I, as well as Celia, am so tired of the bickering around this election. I hate the shrieking cries of the wingnuts who refuse to see that one wing will never fly. To move forward as a nation, all wings, the whole of us, must move together, each doing our individual essential part.

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