Although I’ve since learned what these are, I react with curiosity and amusement whenever I see one. Particularly the pink mustaches.
You know how they say books open doors to new worlds? It’s true.
My partner and I frequent our local branch of the Boston Public Library, twice having borrowed a copy of The New Hiking the Monadnock Region: 44 Nature Walks and Day-Hikes in the Heart of New England and renewed it generously. Long title, many trails at various levels of difficulty.
Following our guide (what? you don’t travel out-of-state with library books?), we visited the stone ruins of a mansion built in the early 1920s by an eccentric theater costume designer, several beaver lodges (sadly, none of the occupants sighted) and many chewed trees that hadn’t toppled in the desired direction, and delicate amphibians decked out in bright orange or careful, mottled brown.
Our hike was easy-level and included many reaches into the giant-bag-o-trailmix, so I didn’t work up the level of appetite I might have. Still, I was happy to chow at Putney Diner, a spot famous for its homestyle pies.
Finally, we stopped by Brattleboro, where I introduced David to the one area of Vermont I know fairly well, having visited with my mother and on numerous occasions with friends.
My first Boston Pride Parade was a revelation. Leather clad ladies on motorcycles. Gyrating men in their underpants dancing to club beats. A politician or two shaking hands while proclaiming progressive platforms. Local health and advocacy groups tossing beads and colorfully packaged condoms, littering the streets with flyers and candy.
I was mesmerized. I was amazed. I’ve gone back again and again.
In the decade or so that I’ve attended (and once, marched with Greater Boston NOW,) the parade has changed. Perhaps matured? Strong in its themes of inclusivity, celebration, activism, and pride, there have been -over the years- a noticeable reduction in near-nude men festooning flatbed trucks and an increase in religious communities, families, politicians, and corporate allies.
Even though I don’t identify as gay, lesbian, queer, or transgender, I’m never the odd person out at Pride, whatever it’s current styling. Which is more than I can say for a certain high school history class where I slumped, hot-faced and confused, as my teacher rattled on about how gays couldn’t serve in the military because they were too limp-wristed and lisping. (Way to disrespect our service members, Mr. Name-I-Can’t-Recall.)
I’m so grateful to my alma mater for helping to release me from the tight hold of an inherited prejudice. My four years at an arts and communication college in Boston were a key folding back a metal lid, out from which exploded a beautiful confetti.
And thank goodness.
Annually since we’ve lived in Jamaica Plain, my partner and I have enjoyed taking part in the JP Spring Roll bike ride organized by our local culture and advocacy group, JP Bikes.
This year, it rained pre-ride so a lot of folks didn’t come out. David and I had the curious experience of being outnumbered by family groups, toting or accompanied by little ‘uns.
We stood out: kidless in the community bike parade. I was also without a bike bell with which to ring in cheers from spectators along the route. Next year I will have to address one of those issues! ;^) (And by that I mean, the bell.)
I appreciate how, when taking part in something annually, you can be awarded opportunities to meet that activity/event anew.
This year, we watched the Wake Up the Earth parade from what we thought was the middle of the route (later, we learned differently.) My partner sipped his coffee and I fiddled with my camera, trying to appear invisible to an intensely compelling group of children-on-stilts and their cheerful parents. The tall crew had gathered and were waiting to join the parade from the end of Paul Gore Street, right in front of the Connelly Branch of the Boston Public Library.
We heard the drums first. Then the kids, most of whom had been walking in place so as to be prepared to join mid-stride, struck out.
My partner and I didn’t see it, but apparently this was repeated further along the route as three separate parades -each originating from and representing different neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury– merged into one then continued together down Lamartine Street, landing finally at the festival.
Some stories are so good, a person trips over herself trying to tell them. How to begin?
With my mother and her newly acquired electric keyboard? How she surprised me with an affirmative to my inquiry, asked slightly in jest: hey, Ma, want to do Ladies Rock Camp with me this spring?
With the brief essays we wrote for our applications, mining our memories for favorite musicians and artistic influences (me: Stevie Wonder; mom: Yanni.)
With forty-plus women, in support of girls, signed up for a three-day rock and roll bootcamp? With Girls Rock Campaign Boston, bursting on the scene in 2010, educating girls ages eight to seventeen in the ways of music and self-empowerment.
The story, on paper or on screen, holds more than I can give words to. More nerve. More verve. More vulnerabilities. More inspiration. More risk-taking. More generosity. More skill. More dancing. More surprises. More support.
So I’m not going to attempt to tell this tale linear. Here are some impressions. Here are some photos. Here is a challenge for you to sign yourself up (or your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend), and find out. Tell your own story.
However this thing begins, you can be sure it ends with gratitude.
Oh. And a video. Rocking out to Maids of Mayhem!