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Monday, September 10, 2012

'Aye for love!!! (and an unexpected race report)

This weekend we made the three hour trek back to Eastport, Maine to march for marriage equality in the Pirate Festival.  We had gone to Eastport to march in the  Fourth of July parade which had been my favorite parade to date. 

(Some of these pictures I took.  Many of them I have stolen shamelessly off Facebook.)

Well, Easport was at it again.  This time busting at the seams with pirates and wenches.  The streets of Eastport were lined six deep with costumed people shouting and cheering and hooting in support of marriage equality. 

As Krisit said, if ever there were a time that we felt like a rock stars this would surely be it.

Sandi's grandmother's health has been poor lastly and Sandi felt called to spend the day with her on Beals which is on the way to Eastport.  It turns out her instincts were right and she ended up taking her grandmother to the ER in the afternoon and hopefully sorting out some solutions to her recent declines.

I met up with Sandi's sister Kristi and kids at the head of the peninsula to Beals Island, they switched cars and Kristi and I and four kids headed to Eastport for the day.

The pridemobile was decked out in pirate fashion for this final parade before the election as were the willing marchers which had swelled to five times the number we usually have.  It was incredible to look around and see the momentum, evident in sheer numbers of people, that Aunt Suzie and Uncle Buck started back in June when they decided to get the word out in Washington County.  Their passion, energy, motivation and vision was a spark that has ignited the area and has created a living, breathing community of gay people, equal-minded people, and those striving for change in a place where there really wasn't one. 

And they haven't done it by force or hate.  They have done it with love, enthusiasm and joy.

The family of activists looking like they stepped off the set of Pirates of the Caribbean.

 My friend Ashley and her family suited up and  made the three hour trip to support the cause.  Even their dog Lily was dressed like a pirate!

Ella took this picture of us and I'm pretty sure I'm telling her to watch out about her finger on the lens and not saying a 4 letter expletive to my seven-year-old.
Ella and Kaylee

Kristi made new signs to make the float sea worthy.

Noah, looking totally awesome, won first prize for his costume and received this cool sword.

I bought Maya a wig to wear with her outfit and she looked hilarious with a capital H.  And while she liked the idea of being funny, in practicality she didn't like the idea of all this hair.  I couldn't let it go unused, although it was regrettable when it came time to push the bed uphill and I had a steady stream of sweat trickling down my spine. (Maya also refused any photos this time around.  Who can blame her?)
Our group was so big this time, it took two pictures to fit everyone!

Aunt Suzie and Uncle Buck won "Most Thrilling" by the festival committee!
I love the faces of activists.
There was one small group of 3-4 spectators who gave us some thumbs down and some boos when we were stopped on the corner.  We all turned to him and just cheered loudly and held up signs. I gave him the peace sign.  There was no fighting, is no fighting, with someone like this.  Only love can really prevail when water meets stone like this.
It was hard to really see the expanse of our group while in it and it wasn't until after when Uncle Buck said we took up about a fourth of the parade that I understood the presence we had in Eastport.
Pushing the bed full of candy throwing kids.

Now, about the race report.  Aunt Suzie thought it would be fun to enter a team in the "bed race."  Uncle Buck designed this bed with old bikes he got at the dump.  I tell you, this man is brilliant.
 Our team was supposed to be Uncle Buck, Dwight (Sandi's dad), Kristi and me pushing and Sandi riding.  Because Sandi's parents had a funeral to attend and Sandi was with her grandmother we made some changes, our friends Katie and Alex graciously watched Kristi's and my kids, and we were at the starting line stretching our quads before we knew it.

In the front running were Uncle Buck (left) and Dwight Jr. who I'd never met and was full of steam (right) and in the back Kris and I.  Kathleen, donning a motorcycle helmet was the rider/flag raiser.

The race is a sprint to the flagpole pushing a bed, the rider dismounting and running to hoist our flag up the pole, running back to the bed and a sprint pushing the bed back to the finish.

None of us had ever done it or seen it done before.

Now here is where I pause to give you an exciting piece of information.  Apparently the Travel Channel was in Eastport filming a segment about the Pirate Festival.  There were men carrying professional grade video cameras crawling all over downtown near the start and we were making jokes about getting on TV.  The race goes in heats, two beds at a time, and we were in the last of four heats.  (And then the fastest two beds race off for a winner.) Who do you think we were racing?  Yup, the guys from the Travel Channel.

The rider must have been the star of whatever show they were filming for because there was a camera mounted to the front of their bed to capture his experience.  They had an ultra fancy bed fashioned to look like a pirate ship.  As we lined up at the start the pusher closest to me said, "Please don't make fools out of us." I told him we had never done it before, had no idea what we were doing and we were smiling and joking.

And then, just before the cannon fired to signal the start, the rider/show's star, took his water bottle and, in true pirate fashion, threw it all over me.  It soaked my face and down my clothes.  Right in front of the camera filming the whole thing.

I think I might be on TV.  And damn if I didn't have a single witty comeback to throw at him.  But before I knew it the cannon had fired and my irate energy funneled into my legs and we RAN.

Because I have a half marathon next weekend, I had squeezed an 8.5 mile run in before I leaving home that morning.  Now I feel embarrassed to even call what I had done in the dark dawn running because clearly what we were doing in the race was really what running is.  I'm surprised I don't have bruises from where my feet were kicking my ass with my heels.  I was sucking wind moving my (much shorter than my teammate's) legs just as fast as they would go, whilst pushing a bed on bicycle wheels.

And, despite the incredible craftsmanship, check out the angle of my wheel:

Flag up the pole and time to run back.  I was definitely at the peak of my anaerobic threshold.  I was honestly afraid I wouldn't be able to keep the pace and would have to let go, but I put my head down, told myself it was not far and ran hard. 
Clearly, all my previous experience with race mentality- digging deep at the brutal finish of a marathon- helped me finish strong in this most important race.
(See the TV crew?)

 I have to say, this was the most fun I'd had in a while.  It made me wonder why I would ever do any other sort of race ever.  It's official: bed races beat the pants off of marathons. 

We won our heat handily (take that Travel guy!) but didn't win the race.  However, the bed, as a nod to Uncle Buck's brilliance, got the "Most Creative" award and we each got a bag of gold  ($20 in dollar coins) in a pirate bag.

When we found this kids Ella said, "MOM! I didn't know you could run that fast!"

Me neither, sweetie.  Me neither.

When Sandi asked Ella what her favorite part of the day was and she answered: "The bed race."  Then she said, "Wouldn't it be fun to go back next year and not need to march for equality, but just to go for fun?  Maybe we could have a different float!"

I don't know if Aunt Suzie and Uncle Bucky fully know the gift they have given this rural, closed-minded patch of Maine.  It is a gift that will continue to give long after the pridemobile is stripped and their trailer put back to everyday use.  This is a place where people were afraid to come out still, afraid to live openly and didn't have a space to just be who they are.  Aunt Suzie and Uncle Bucky have infused it with love, with permission, with acceptance.  I marvel at all they believe and how they put their money and time where their mouths are.  I am proud to call them my family and am certain they have changed me, how I think, and what I know to be true about change. 

All of this leaves me with one resonating thought:  while it is kind of sucky to have to fight so hard for basic rights, it has been really fun, unifying and celebratory as well.  Turns out, if I can not get too upset over the slight of being treated as unequal, I really relish working hard toward a goal.  Especially with others who are motivated, impassioned and dedicated.  I will miss so many of these people I have come to know this summer.  Beautiful people, gay and straight, with hearts of gold and love that knows no bounds. 

A thousand thank yous to all who have helped the cause this summer.  I have no words to really tell you what it means to me, to our family, to our state.  And from here every converstation, every story and photo shared will continue the momentum created here and push us foward toward real change on election day.

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