Worth the Fight

I've been packing and changing my address on forms with the post office. I've been arranging Salvation Army pick-ups and wrangling friends into helping me move. (I really do have the best friends.) I've put most of my stuff in storage and rented a big room at the back of an old house with french doors that open onto a patio, a back yard, and a fire pit... this is just for the summer. Because I can. Because I am allergic to the house I was in for almost 5 years. Because I needed a change.

Reading this over it almost sounds fun. Is moving ever fun?

Before that I was in Thailand and recovering from the jet lag. This is the first I've written in several weeks. I've missed this.

Independence Day came and went in a flash. I had breakfast with a friend on my patio but other than that I don't even remember what I did with myself. I took a day off. I told myself I needed a break.

I've been thinking about my freedom, our freedom, as Americans. I think I actually had to leave the country to realize that this freedom is unique. Most of the world has never known this type of freedom. This freedom was born out of bloody battles. This freedom was worth the fight.

Until I went to Bangkok, I had no idea how important it is - within the human soul - to be able to identify yourself as a member of a country... to hold up a flag and know that you safely belong within its borders... to lock your door at night and know that you are home.

While in Bangkok, we visited the Immigration Detention Center, (the IDC). It is basically a jail. You surrender your purse, camera, and passport while the guards pat you down and usher you into a covered patio area split down the middle with two different sets of iron gates. A guard paces between the gates while another guard shuffles the detainees (prisoners) in for their visit. Visiting hour is 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and mainly consists of screaming your conversation through the bars and over everyone else's conversations. While we were in line and the guards were processing our paperwork, we met a man from Pakistan who was there to visit his sister and her small son who had been in the IDC for several months. He was there to deliver paperwork to her caseworker.

It was close to 100 degrees and humid. Miserable. I had no idea there would be this many refugees. We waited for the people we had come to visit. A couple from Pakistan, a man from the congo, and a  man from Nepal. But there was a computer glitch and it was 10 minutes after 11 before they came out. While we waited, I saw the man from Pakistan visiting with his sister, I craned my neck to get a better look and caught sight of her 3 year old son. I went straight to him. I couldn't help myself. He was a beautiful little boy who had no business being in a place like this. His eyes were huge and dark like his hair. His face fit through the bars. We spent time making faces at each other until he noticed that we were both wearing colorful plastic flip-flops. This might be the only thing we had in common but for a little while, this was enough.

I wanted to cry, but no one else, not one of these detainees (prisoners) was crying. They were just glad to be with other people. Even this little boy was laughing and telling me things in a language I could not understand. Who was I to start crying in a place like this when I get to leave when the visiting hour is up? So I didn't cry. And I couldn't speak. And for the life of me, I can't get the picture of that little boys face out of my head. Last week I finally let myself cry about it. I took out a pen and opened up my journal and sketched what I remembered of his perfect little face.

little one

It is such a foreign concept to see someone behind bars when their only crime is that they do not have a country to call home. A country that will fight for their freedom and safety. I did not walk away from that experience compelled to adopt that little boy or any of the children I met. I could see that they had loving parents who escaped terrible situations to give their children a better future with more freedom and opportunity to become who they really are.

Instead, I walked away with a reminder:

A persons freedom is always worth the fight.