|My desk (originally Tom's Grandfather Greene's desk). Only once has it|
been this neat, so I'm glad I took a photo.
For fear of overlooking someone whose friendship was important in whatever place we lived, I won't list people by name, and I will only highlight a few outcomes of some of those friendships.
If we had not lived in Denham Springs, Louisiana, I would not now have a friend who has been my most faithful correspondent since 1987 (and sometimes co-conspirator in adventures). We don't write as prolifically as we once did, but I have notebooks filled with our correspondence in which we discussed our lives, our hopes, our dreams, our daily experiences, our reading--in detail. These letters document my life, as do those of at least two other friends whom I met along the way, one with whom I corresponded just a few years, another whom I now call on the telephone because, at 77 or 78 years of age, she has become almost completely blind. Had I not been the office mate of the latter at Texas A&M University, I would not have been the model for a character in one of her novels, I would not have experienced a great literary weekend--accompanied by an aunt and two cousins--at a university where my friend directed a writing program. I would not have met (briefly--no way would he remember this) Frank Schaeffer, nor would I have attended a Glen Workshop and signed up for a five-day poetry workshop with Scott Cairns. Most importantly, I would not have received my friend's sage advice over the years.
Had we not lived in Denham Springs, Louisiana, I would never have met the friend who introduced us to Minnesota, an introduction which served us well years later when we moved there. Nor would I have had an intimate look at the struggles of being gay--including the loss of those with HIV/AIDS-- which helped me develop my own then-fledgling progressive attitudes. Had we not returned to Texas and to the church we once attended as undergraduate and graduate students, I would not have had the conversation with my pastor there that taught me how the fear of losing a job can prevent even a good man from openly promoting acceptance of those gays who were in his congregation and who were his friends. This pastor told me that science would prove how sexuality is governed partly by hormones, by electrical impulses in our brains, by genetic coding--and that the Southern Baptist Church, in its rejection of one part of sexual behavior, would further lose credibility. I would share this encounter a couple of years later with a pastor in Minnesota, whose wife's family members were reeling from the suicide of a 19-year-old nephew/son/grandson who was gay.
Had we not lived in Harris County, Georgia, and had I not taught at Columbus State University, I would not have met the friends who introduced me to folk art, to Butch Anthony, to Pasaquan, and to art cars. I never would have created The Lady and would not have had so many adventures driving my art car to, from, and in art car parades in Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia.
|The Lady, my art car, Austin, Texas 2005 (before an art car parade)|
And, thus, I never would have met Harrod Blank, ArtCar artist and filmmaker.
|Me and Harrod Blank, Baton Rouge Art Car Parade, 2006|
|colleague posing with a throw I made from felted, second-hand |
wool sweaters, Artist Festival, Pasaquan 2010
|farewell cake with tongue-in-cheek message|
Had we not lived in Abita Springs, Louisiana, I would not have such fond memories of the Drinking Liberally meetings Tom and I attended; perhaps I would also be less motivated to be politically informed. I would not have seen upfront and personal how a state legislature works and how narrow-minded and dismissive of the less fortunate state legislators can be...publicly and unashamed. I might not have educated myself on mass incarceration, doing the research, writing a blog, attending political rallies and helping with local public meetings. I would know a lot less of what goes on behind the scenes in managing a small town and the work that some committed citizens do, gratis, to keep the rest of us informed. Many of the women I met during the time we lived in Abita Springs are far more politically involved than I am, but their continuing commitment to creating better lives for the most vulnerable in our society encourages me to stay engaged as a citizen.
Sometimes I get a little melancholy over what we've left behind, so it's important for me to take a moment to appreciate what we've gained. This post describes just a little of what I am thankful for.