Imagine

My new citadel is in many ways paradoxical.  It does not show up on any known mapping program, yet packages still make their way here.  It is not in Lynchburg, but it is said to be so.  Sometimes the GPS on my phone tells me I am in Lynchburg.  Sometimes, Rustburg.  Note that both these measurements are taken from my desk, which apart from standard cosmic forces, is stationary.

Lynchburg has an odd feel to it, an odd rhythm.  It is a fiercely independent city that is home to a less-than-welcome invader, upon Candlers Mountain.  Liberty University, the house that Falwell built, has a bad reputation among many of the locals I’ve found.  They had an identity, they were proud southerners.  Lynchburg was the only major confederate city never to fall to the Union Army during the Civil War.  While I, personally, find that honor dubious at best, I respect cultural identity.  When Falwell rose to prominence, Lynchburg’s identity was subverted by a megalomaniac whose views could charitably be described as “hateful” and is one of the few human beings, along with Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler, who I am truly glad is dead.    I know a good man never celebrates death, but I’m not a good man.  I am an honest man, and I hope all three are being hatefucked in the soul in their hells of choice.

The Libertards tend not to stray very far from their enclaves upon Candlers Mountain.  I’ll see a few here and there in the shopping centers directly adjacent, and one thing identifies them above all else: immaturity.  They’re loud, obnoxious, silly children.  The students of nearby Central Virginia Community College and Lynchburg College are infinitely more restrained in public, despite the reputation of the latter as a “Party School”.  I’m beginning to understand and appreciate the country in ways I didn’t back in D.C.  Not the south, mind you, the Country.  All the out-of-the-way places, north, south, middle, west.  Generally speaking the places where it is not uncommon, if you drive down a back road, to see cattle grazing, corn stalks growing, and above all else, trees.  Nature, unmolested by man’s presence.  I’ve seen more forest, field, and sky in my one month in this town than in all my twenty-four years in D.C.

Today, after looking around Craigslist for a while I found an absolute gem of a turntable, perfect for the little den we’ve set up here on Minas Macil.  My father called up the owner, and we went on a bit of an adventure trying to find his house among what can only be described as the backwoods.  It was not five minutes away, but so dramatic was the atmosphere that I could have sworn I’d traveled hundreds of miles into the heartland.  We live only in the foothills of the Appalachians, but the rolling forests upon mountains of increasing grandeur tend to impress even the most technological man.

When we met the owner of the turntable, he was many things I expected of a typical, proud southern man.  He was accented and loud, though not in a rude way.  He was working out in the shed, plenty of tools and timber were strewn about the place.  And, I’ll be damned, he was a nice guy.  Hospitable and surprising in many ways.  Yes, he had guns.  Proper guns, hunting rifles, mind you.  Safely kept.  In his self-described “man cave” he had a poster of John Lennon, as well as one of Dale Earnhardt and a Confederate flag bearing the slogan “The South Will Rise Again”.  As I helped my dad look through the various electronics he was trying to fix up and sell, I found myself and my father in a conversation with a man who was genuinely nice.  He was an individual, his record collection was formidable and tasteful.  This was no beer-swilling ignoramus, this was a man with tastes that were broader than I would have imagined.

It strikes me now that I was the most prejudiced man in that particular man-cave.  D.C. is even more poisonous than I thought.  Picking a side, picking an ideology, picking a “team” counts for everything there.  You look at a map and you see the colors of your team and the colors of the opposing team, and you think, “Wow, there are a bunch of fucking idiots in those places that have a different color”.  The entire time we were there, we talked about electronics, old records, old speakers, beautifully-kept vintage stereo stuff, and I know I’ll be going back at some point to help repair some of the more esoteric pieces.  It never occurred to me that someone could revere John Lennon and Dale Earnhardt, play the banjo and listen to Bach.

I know more today than I did yesterday.  I no longer feel like the stranger in a strange land, the civilized man among the apes.  That was plain wrong of me.  I realized I don’t have to talk about politics with someone, or know their political views, to get along with them.  I know I can look at a flag that will always be a symbol of hatred to me, but know it stands for something different for some people.  I can see why he admired John Lennon.  He was ahead of the curve.  There’s nothing in “Imagine” about one ideology triumphing over another, or one party winning the next big election.  There’s just a hope for a future where we can all find some common ground.

And the world will live as one.

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