There are distances we make for others.
They are hard to cross.
Hidden miles between drinks and conversations. I was lost out there as tea table lights faded into darker hours.
My eyes – glassed. Not from exhaustion, or beer – this is still the first can half-drunk and warm from my inattention. Not from the haze of smoke. Or the music.
– Do you know how far we are?
“You are being quiet,” she nudged my shoulder.
“A Silent Texan right, Rene?” the table is looking at me, “Pistols at dawn? Cowboys?”
The girl from the alley laughed. Brushed the black ribbons on her wrist, watching for my answer. She’d brought me here to meet friends.
One of which was a wispy-blonde, art student in a red tank top asking me questions about Texas. And conservatives. And cowboys.
“Y’all love your guns.”
– How far we are.
He was wanting to argue.
“No man we don’t all have guns.” And that’s true. Mostly. We don’t all carry. I wasn’t going to tell him that I didn’t know a lot of people who did. That they made me uncomfortable. Just that we all don’t.
“Ride your pony to school?” he laughed.
“I just can’t understand it cowboy…” He leaned over his drink. Coming just into the light of the candle so the fine blonde hair on his chin glimmered faintly.
He was ready to for a show. He was mad. And needed a way to express it. So he doesn’t the night looking for an argument. To make a stand for a hero agains his anger. But he needed a straw dog. An emblem for everything he thought was wrong in the world. For him, it was a gun owner. A Texan. And though I don’t own one I was a Texan and that is close enough sometimes.
His speech ran. I waited. Feeling my Lone Star getting warmer. And wondering if this would have gone a different way had I not ordered it. If I had ordered a Guinness instead. Or a craft micro-brew… would I be having a direct night then?
He wanted me to argue back, but I only nodded and gave several sighs that ranged from “I know,” to “I know right?”
Cause for the most part I agreed with him.
Distances. It’s always hard to see how far we are…
“See cowboy,” he showed me his wrist.
I wanted to tell him, I’m just not that person. Not that cowboy. I think he’s right. But I listened.
Him and her. All their friends too. Made them into bracelets or armbands or on a necklace.
Each one a student lost in the last year. Each one a gun shot fired in some school.
They broke my heart. And I loved them for making a statement for trying to say something. And I loved them for having so much love in their hearts that they would give me a lecture on guns.
Cause they were angry. Cause they believed change is possible. And something should be done. But the young can only do so much. And they didn’t want to forget, and they don’t want to sit by, so they wore black ribbons and talk. And argue. And participate.
– Maybe the distance grew a little smaller.
The waitress came around and everyone ordered again, I did too.
Even though I knew I wasn’t going to drink the next. Like I didn’t drink the first.
Cause some people need to talk. People need to tell their story. Not about politics. Or policies. But people. Hurt people. Angry people. Scared people. Tired people. They all have stories. Even when we agree. We need to listen.
I don’t pretend to have answers.
This took place well before the Orlando Shooting or Dallas. They were talking about campus shootings. But this happened right as I was revisiting this memory. And it hurts worse now. That distance. One I didn’t want to cross… shrank again.
And I still feel the same, but I think I need to clarify something about my thoughts.
We need to do something. Action should be taken. But our dialogue devolves so quickly that it becomes near impossible to discuss how to change. There is anger and name calling, and politicizing and all the worst things that stop us until we quit and move on, waiting for another attack to stir everything up again.
Listen. Sympathize. Love. It is not easy to close distance. No matter how small. It is not easy to open ourselves to our own faults. Cause that’s what it will take. Not proving what we feel is right but admitting what learn is wrong.
ps. Check me out at
Miles Davis – So What