The Amazon Trail

FESTIVE FLAMINGOS

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

 

We always have something, perhaps just one thing, in common with others.

That thought struck me as one of our neighbors invited us to stop by and see his Christmas flamingos. Who would have guessed that this perfectly straight guy, married to a woman, always puttering in his workroom, not only collected flamingo paraphernalia, but had a collection extensive enough to sort  seasonally. He’d seen the neon flamingo in our window, though, and our three front yard flamingos (two pink, one brown), and maybe the flamingo crossing sign hanging in our garage. In any case, and unexpectedly, we have the amazing pink birds in common.flamingo

These commonalities usually come as a shock. If someone had told me, back in the radical, separatist, feminist, lesbian good old days, that I would be oohing and ahhing every December over a lighted holiday boat parade with a group of dykes that included highly-skilled professionals: wildlife biologist, teachers, lawyer, city planner, published writers, librarian, nurse, and  banker—I would have rolled my eyes and said, “Oh, sure.” We had our affectional preference in common, but we weren’t there to hoist rainbow flags, we wanted to see the pretty boats go around in circles in the rain. Silly saps.

At no time has it been more clear to me than now, with my arm in a sling, how very much humans have in common with one another. I’m suddenly a magnet. Yesterday a neighbor repeatedly jabbed a finger toward my arm and sputtered until she could get the question out: “What happened?” People who have never before initiated conversations with me inevitably want to talk about their own rotator cuff surgery, or their cousin’s, or their childhood broken arm, or their fear of a long, difficult rehabilitation. Others boast that they prefer living with the pain. The sight of a sling must bring out the kinship of human frailty.

Now and then I have lunch with a group of women. Within that group is a smaller one: the rebels. Somehow we recognized in one another a tendency to stray from the norm. As we get acquainted we confirm this more and more, collectively renouncing organized religion, traditional women’s roles, retirement hobbies and catch as catch can work. We’re still revealing our herstories: the Utah gay activist, the vegan tai chi instructor, the oboe player, the animal activist. We love to misbehave, white hair or not, and, always the rule breakers, the progressives, we revel in our various othernesses.

There’s a human need to find bonds no matter how tenuous. I first recognized it in my mother, a Boston expat in New York City. You would have thought she’d moved to Lapland or, at the least, Marfa, Texas. She watched for Massachusetts license plates, was thrilled to meet others with New England accents, and thought anyplace south of Rhode Island was Sin City. Never mind the evils of burlesque-mad Scolley Square in its heyday. Now I, too, am ebullient to find people from my home state who’ve settled out west.

Fox News may be Big Brother’s elevator music, but even the neighbor who sings the abysmal Fox lyrics likes to take his daily walk through the neighborhood during the sun’s brief late afternoon appearance, the same time I prefer to walk. After one of his scrofulous anti-Obama remarks I could only stare at him literally open-mouthed. Now this scruffy little dyke and the towering bigot exchange wary smiles and consistently joke about something we all share: the weather.

The woman who moved in down the way is a housewife and mother from Montana. She’s completely foreign to me in terms of geography, lifestyle, you name it. One day she stopped to see why I was staring at a tree. When I told her I was trying to identify a bird, she joined me and we took turns naming possible species, confirming markings, sharing what we could remember. Next time I see her I’ll let her know it was a Ruby-crowned kinglet. We may have nothing else to tie us together, but we can talk birds.

Writer, kitty, holiday treeAnd lights. She thanked my sweetheart and me for decorating one of our small fir trees with fairy lights. As the holiday decorations spread from the boat parade across town to our hilltop, we residents admire them and reveal how disappointed we are each year when they come down. I was pleased to find I’m not the only one to find comfort in the lights. Apparently, so were the neighbors, because by golly, if this year it didn’t turn out that there are more lights up than ever.

No matter our sometimes wide differences, the bigots and birders, the flamingo and lighted fleet enthusiasts, the rebels and the relocated, we all enjoy connections. We have a need to touch what binds us through our layers of difference. And what binds us is always there.

Copyright 2015 Lee Lynch

 

9 Responses to “The Amazon Trail”


  1. 1 Sharon E. Owens December 24, 2015 at 12:46 PM

    It’s nice to be able to find even tenuous common ground in these polarized times. Happy holidays, and good luck with your recovery.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 3 Renee Bess December 24, 2015 at 1:22 PM

    Thank you for your blog post. Your words are the perfect match for the kind of Christmas Eve afternoon I’m experiencing. My wife and I just took a peaceful walk in our neighborhood. One of our neighbors must have seen us, because she dashed out holding an envelope with our names but her address written on it. She also had a cookie tin filled with chocolate covered pretzels. “These are for you,” she said. “For the garden veggies you gave us last summer.” We hugged her. The unexpected gestures of gratitude and kindness from neighbors with whom you have little in common are among life’s gifts. Thank you for writing about the sweetness of finding common ground with your neighbors. Merry Christmas to you, Lee, and to your sweetheart as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 4 Lee Lynch December 24, 2015 at 4:26 PM

      That just happened to me, too! Our neighbor, fellow birder and my sister Yankee fan out here in the West, drove up to me with a card that had been delivered to her. No pretzels, but then no veggies either🙂. We’re hoping the rain will stop long enough for our xmas eve walk. Have a lovely Christmas with your sweetheart, Renee.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 5 mebuchanan December 24, 2015 at 3:44 PM

    If we focused more on our connections than on our differences then the world would be a better place.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 7 Melissa Moir December 24, 2015 at 4:55 PM

    Some world-changing words if you ask me. Wonderfully put. Thanks Lee! You and Lainey have a great holiday season and a SAFE winter.
    ~Melissa & Marlyn

    Like

  5. 8 S.A. December 26, 2015 at 1:58 PM

    So very true, and insightful, as always. Thanks for sharing, and happy holidays, Lee!

    Like

  6. 9 Devlyn December 27, 2015 at 6:59 AM

    Well said Lee. Today we went to a photography shoot at an 80 year olds birthday. I was thinking that we would be taking photos while bored shitless. Turns out the guy I was tagged to sit next to lives a couple of houses down the street from one of our good friends, his daughter was looking to buy a camera just like mine and wanted to know all about it and his wife was overly friendly to us. Maybe that was the alcohol flowing but she was friendly. Everyone else kept getting us confused with the Birthday Lady’s lesbian daughter and her partner who were over the other side of Australia in labour. It did make for an enjoyable day though with no boundaries or prejudices. Hope you both have a fabulous holiday season and your arm/ shoulder heals quickly.

    Like


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