By Midge Pierce
On the third Saturday in January, I stood proudly with Dumbledore’s drenched army; my clan well-assembled despite my initial misgivings.
The one-year-old in her Snugli shared her Mommy’s valiant arms with a Muggle’s guide to stop the dark arts. Looking quite Dobby holding the Granny Grabs Back sign, the wee conscriptee tilted her head toward the helicopter counting the crowd as plump raindrops fell on her astonishment like grace notes.
The three-year-old, perched on his daddy’s broad shoulders, gazed at the multitude some 100,000 strong with eyes rounder than a boy wizard’s glasses. Rain mixed with improbable joy at the show of support for common sense and basic human rights.
I fell in love all over again with my family and like many of you, with my City. My heart about burst like the buses and bridges that brought Portland, the nation and the world together to say, Yes We Still Can.
That night I dreamed of my happy place – a Portopia blanketed in downy snowcreatures, crowned in pearly ice sculptures and tended by R2D2s, built in the snow using legos. Dogs pulling sleds raced fat tire bikes while masses of red-waggoned children barrelled down hills on car-free, school’s-closed streets.
The snow was the good kind that has traction, packs well and stacks up easily alongside sidewalks – the kind that brings out the best in Portlanders so they actually use their shovels – the kind that melts from afterglow before it turns to ice.
In this snow, no skis were too skinny, no potholes too deep and no urban planning too shortsighted. In this dream, classic craftsman bungalows found Sanctuary in a City which formally adopted Division Design Initiatives. The Portland Chronicle was busy exposing demolition across the land.
I was halfway through Season 3 of the Gilmore Girls when I hit pause on my dream to yaktrack over to Belmont to pick at the picked-over shelves of Zupan’s and witness the evisceration of the Eastside’s oldest Main Street.
My moisture lotion and I were spent. Parents had run out of verses to the Wheels on the Bus. Down one street, vandals had hard-rocked a local bakery. Down another, they had broken into a children’s gym.
Icicles and compassion shattered like a thousand conflicting agendas. The frosted snowfolly who had waited so patiently at the Line 15 bus stop puddled. Water rose in my basement.
Later, I tried reracking my dream but dystopia in the nooks of my cranium covered signage that had once urged Make America Think Again and Let’s Talk About the Elephant in the Womb.
Kellyanne Conway clones in full military regalia and faux fact, yesman-bobbed hair taunted marchers into zombies with orange overcombs, mouthy faces and busybody hands topped with fizzy, tiny-fisted fingers.
Somewhere in the crowd a rare voice of reason shouted What’s next? Will science survive Alternative Facts? Will the press corps get past crowd-shaming to meaty stuff like the fate of the republic? Will I wake before the doomsday clock strikes midnight?
Heavy in migraine, I awoke.
In my dream, Portopia was snug with welcome and wry. In nightmare, it became a town smug with self-righteousness, divided over property rights growth, affordability and even the meaning of democracy.
If freedom means choice, whose choice matters? Should we castigate the Rockette who refused an inaugural dance or the bus driver listening to rightwave radio the way we did Sweet Cakes for declining a wedding? Did political correctness so blindside us that we failed to see end-times coming? Can America be Kind Again with snarky, nasty grannies like me?
Yes, we need to talk.
And across the divides, we need to listen if we still can.