I SAID I was SORRY

There are not many things that are awkward per se about being a gardener. But there is one. Sometimes I overhear things happening in my neighbor’s yard that I maybe should not.

Like one fine spring day when my neighbor’s front door SLAMMED and their really quite adorable teenager turned round on the front stoop and screamed back at the closed door “I SAID I was SORRY!” Car tires squealed. Calm settled back.

I know it’s not funny, but I said I was sorry – big emphasis on SAID and SORRY – has since become part of the vernacular in our house. When we do something stupid and apologize but the other won’t let it go I SAID I was SORRY can sometimes break the spell of an argument that is going nowhere.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

I’ve been thinking about apologizing and making amends more than usual lately. I mean, I’ve thought about it a lot over the years related to my work. How batterers and sex offenders can apologize and make amends for the terrible things they have done to their loved ones and others.

And is that even possible?

And yes it is.

But now, every day, I’m watching the much bigger picture of our nation coming to terms. Watching as the scabs and scars covering our many national shames split open and bleed.

For instance, this New York Times article: A public apology for the inconceivably wicked crime of the lynching of 16-year-old Austin Callaway, taken from a jail cell and murdered on September 4, 1940 in LaGrange, Georgia.

Ernest Ward, right, the N.A.A.C.P. president in Troup County, Ga., said he had “a newfound respect” for Louis M. Dekmar, the police chief in LaGrange. I am in awe of the people in LaGrange. Those with the courage to stand up. To face the past and to face the present. To be together. To struggle even as it gets messier and messier.

It is incumbent on me, on all of us to be together. In person. To lean in toward one another and whisper in each others ears “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” To bust wide open and tell one another our stories and see where that takes us.

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

Social justice non-profits are feeling dread and despair about the next four years, so Nonprofit With Balls has written The Nonprofit Serenity Prayer to use when we need to calm ourselves down and carry on.

Here’s an amazing call for people with white privilege to embrace their fragility instead of becoming defensive in the face of critique: “I hear the argument that this kind of targeting doesn’t ‘make the tent larger’ because it alienates white women who would potentially be allies. I say that making the tent larger is more readily and fully achieved by making equal space for women of color and the issues that disproportionately affect them — not pandering to the white fragility of so-called ‘allies.’ ”

We are big fans of Roxane Gay, and we broke out in big smiles when we heard that she is pulling her next book from Simon & Schuster in response to their intention to publish white nationalist and hate-monger Milo Yiannopoulos.

Everybody needs a little knipple

Recently, while sharing stories about her family, a coworker mentioned that she kept finding knipples in her mother’s house. After an awkward silence, she explained that “knipple” (pronounce the “k”) was a Yiddish word that meant a woman’s secret stash of money. That got me thinking—this sounds like a pretty good idea.

When a woman has money, it gives her more options and more power to make her own decisions. This makes her life more stable and gives her flexibility to respond if things go south (like in her relationship). Sure, it’s important to have community resources like affordable housing, food banks, and so on. But nothing gives you freedom, and that includes freedom from abuse, like cold hard cash.

Knipple

It would be great if we all had a rich uncle who could overnight us a boatload of Benjamins, but we’re not all so lucky. We need to find ways for women to access cash when they need it, promote financial education, and protect and expand welfare programs that already exist. Because, at some point, everybody needs a little knipple.

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

8 Terrifying Ways People Restrict Abortion “An overturning of Roe v. Wade would be instantly disastrous, thanks to many cases in which anti-abortion laws are waiting in the rafters of state legislation, including four states with laws on the books called trigger bans, which would instantly impose criminal bans on abortion if the case was overturned.”

The Kids Who Rocked the Racial Justice Movement in 2016 “From the Flint native who propelled her city’s water crisis onto the national radar to the girl who rallied Latinxs to vote their interests, here are the young activists whose intersectional battles inched us closer to freedom in 2016.”

Ariana Grande Defends Anti-Objectification Comments “Expressing sexuality in art is not an invitation for disrespect !!! just like wearing a short skirt is not asking for assault …You are literally saying that if we look a certain way, we are yours to take. But we are not !!! It’s our right to express ourselves.”

A path to your door

When I was a little kid, my friend Jan and I beat a path through the tangle of brush in the vacant lot that separated our two homes. We were always so desperate to be with one another that we did this to cut 23 seconds off the time it took to get to each other’s door.

Our bedroom windows were facing and we would flick our lights to signal our mysterious childhood doings. Once we even tried stringing a tin can “telephone” between our windows. “Can you hear me!?” we screamed into the cans. And we could.

Path to a house

Today, I am looking out my window and noticing that my neighbors and I have beaten similar paths. At times like these, we are desperate to be together. Knowing that there will be some form of comfort, of reassurance.

In this solstice season, with all the fear and strife in our country and in the world, find the paths to your loved ones. Linger in your hugs. Share your savories and sweets. Care for one another more deeply than you ever could have imagined.