I was on vacation last week — on the road, on a boat, in the woods — mostly off the grid, as it were. Did I miss anything?
I mean, besides the Supreme Court approving the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making gay marriage the law of the land, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley deciding to take down the Confederate flag, and the Grizzlies making a few moves and drafting another "project." That's about it, right?
Oh, and President Obama singing a hymn and making one of the most powerful and beautiful speeches I've ever heard. That, too.
I got bits and pieces of it all on my cell phone. Traveling across Long Island with my son at the wheel, I checked CNN and saw that the ACA had survived its most serious challenge. "Wow," I said. "The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare today."
"That's a big deal, right?" said my son.
"Yes, it is," I said. "A very big deal." Then back to vacationing we went.
It was the same sort of scenario with the SCOTUS gay-marriage decision. I learned of it on my phone in a coffee shop in Amagansett.
"That's huge," my son said.
"Amazing," I said. Then back to vacationing we went: sailing, surfing, hikes in the woods, walks along secluded beaches. Our Airbnb didn't have wi-fi and phone reception was iffy. The country was changing in monumental ways and we were barely aware of it.
Friday night, we went to hear a couple of acoustic musicians play in the local town square. It was a gorgeous evening, cool, dark, and starry, with a half-moon hanging overhead. The performers finished with a lovely version of Neil Young's "Helpless." Blue, blue windows behind the stars. Such peace.
As the crowd stood and shuffled, I stayed seated on the blanket and checked Facebook, as one does occasionally, even on vacation. A friend had posted a video of President Obama singing "Amazing Grace" during his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney. I clicked on it and listened. Within seconds there were tears in my eyes. What a powerful and perfect redemptive gesture. I sat for a while, taking it in and maybe for the first time understanding the magnitude of what had transpired in my country in a few short days.
I got back to Memphis Sunday and spent hours catching up, reading newspapers, checking websites, getting opinions and reactions to all the drama.
Justice Scalia's get-off-my-lawn dissents, citing "hippies" and other "jiggery-pokery" were priceless. There was the inevitable blowback. Some GOP officeholders were still trying to figure out ways to keep the tides of change at bay. The old tropes of Christian persecution and states' rights were run up the flagpole again, but even the politicians seemed to know it was over. The KKK announced a march in South Carolina, for "heritage." Send in the clowns. Speaking of which: Donald Trump even got fired.
What a week.