We have an old sour cherry tree out back that regularly produces enough fruit for several pies. I often make one during the holidays and think I will do so this year–a sort of Hello America cherry pie. I’ll use less sugar, less honey so it’s good and tart. Not sour, but tart.
Let me back up. Earlier this year I had brain surgery for a tumor that had grown quite large but was nevertheless, and thankfully, benign. It was unexpected. I was having a blast one minute and the next I was in the emergency room, MRI, surgery**–like when they started offing characters on Downton Abbey that third season, just about one per episode for a while. Surprise!
(Ok, I can hear my partner saying: wait. What about those headaches? And then you started walking funny. Sure, you can point to that stuff now, but who on earth thinks they have a brain tumor? Anyway, not me. I never, ever, ever thought that. Even after the MRI and they showed me pictures of this 4mm black hole in my brain, I still didn’t believe it.)
My partner of 25 years got our papers together, the legal shit that would assert her right to be at my side. As it turned out, no one asked and anyway, no one in their right mind would have blocked her. She was fierce beyond anything I’d ever seen. Even the lady in Pre-Op, clearly a Marine General in a past life, stepped aside and let her stay, against protocol.
But we needn’t have worried. No one blinked twice. It was excellent to feel so clearly that our worries were old school. That we live in a different time now, that not so very long ago the hospital would have been legally bound to block my partner’s access to me, but time’s have changed. Back then, she would not have been considered my family. My family was family, and to be honest, I would have rather gone through the whole thing alone than have my family there. But time’s have changed and on that front, we were deeply happy and grateful.
Things may be changing again, alas. Intolerance, bigotry, misogyny, racism–all the things we thought we were making progress on in our country–may be making a comeback. I still believe the majority of us do not want this to happen, so who knows how this plays out.
But a tart cherry pie seems right to me. Tart because, well, here in Seattle, we live in a bubble. And I believe we will continue to view ourselves as a progressive haven, not matter what. But when the rest of the country does something like what it did on November 11th, bubbly places like Seattle are sort of like WTF? We truly don’t get it.
Interestingly, the bubbles in this country tend to be urban and high tax-revenue generating areas. Life is different here. And for someone like me whose very life might depend on progressive standards and laws, it’s been sweet. I know for others in this country, those for whom my legal rights won’t pay their bills, life has been otherwise. I’ve been on the receiving end of not-fair and I know it sucks every single damn day. But I gotta say, for the last couple of years, for people like me, it’s been unbelievably nice–and new!–to have all the legal rights and protections this country affords its citizens.
So: tart. Without a little sugar, the pie would be inedible and sour. Most of us would like it with more sweetness but that’s just not happening this year. Tart is a challenging taste–sharp, but not sour. Bittersweet.
**PS, a shout out to Obamacare! What can I say? I’m quite certain I was able to get better care, excellent world class care because of Obamacare. I know there’s lots of opinions about it, but when it works for you, it’s hard to diss it.