Friday, November 15, 2013

A Wonk's Work in Progress

It's sad but true that when you don't know where you're going any road will get you there. As kids growing up, we would sit wordless and worried in the backseat of our parents' '67 Chrysler Newport station wagon, a massive piece of metal that stretched for days it seemed, on road trips from our house in New Jersey to places that often proved to be more difficult to find than originally anticipated.

Mom would sit in the passenger front seat with the map open in her lap and Dad, grimly gripping the steering wheel, would drive into the teeth of whatever new adventure lay around the corner, always at speeds approaching light, undaunted as Mom would mutter about us having missed an exit or now traveling on a road not on her map and almost always ending with a plea for Dad to slow down.

I can still remember the near manic glee in his voice as he would say to her, and us, both captive and captivated in the rear seat, "we may be lost, but we're making great time!" On more than one occasion since those halcyon days, I have heard that same tone of voice from my mouth in similar vehicular situations.

Don't get me wrong. We never needed to produce passports at international borders or checkpoints and we didn't stay in places overnight where we had to boil the water before drinking but looking back, it seems to me that sometimes we got to where we were going more despite our efforts than because of them.

I got to thinking about the differences and similarities of the journey and the destination in the moments after the polls closed and results were announced last Tuesday night here in Norwich. it looks like we want change, but with a lower case 'c' as we returned three alderpersons to seats on a seven person council, selected another alderperson to replace the previous Mayor (does he end up with business cards that read like that?), returned a former alderperson and added two newcomers.

With apologies to the cliche, something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue (or red, depending on your ideology I guess). Culture wars, if the national media are to be believed (and I do, every word; okay not Fox or MSNBC), are being waged house to house (and Senate to Senate?) in our nation's capital and unless insert name of your party of choice here wins life on earth and in these United States, at least as we know it, will cease. Seemingly. Or not since our mileage may vary.

Makes me glad I'm wearing my after-school playclothes and not my good stuff. Self-serving rhetoric is impossible to get out of corduroy, or Ol' Roy for that matter. Meanwhile at the most immediate level of government to us, the 'we have come to the place where the road and the sky collide' play-at-home edition, change is much more incremental (when I'm being impatient, I say 'glacial' but with winter coming soon enough, that descriptive will get quite the workout).

We campaign with a great deal of civility and courtesy (we are, after all, neighbors not abstractions) and while some folks were, I'm sure, disappointed by results last week, life goes on and already has.

I just thought about Kurt Vonnegut's Slapstick and grinned as I can almost imagine trading in my given middle name, Patrick, for something like Peony-but only if the new world order we alternate in embracing and dreading comes with bacon ranch dressing, some chocolate morsels and ever popular, at least with me, pony rides for my birthday. Hi-Ho. Silver.
-bill kenny

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