January 22, 2008

Love is Bigger than Hate

Here's a story from a few years ago:

I was in the process of selling my store, Herland: The WanderGround. And like all lesbians, of course it all about processing... I had made the decision to sell last January, and started to put the word out, in local papers and in radio interviews. As the news spread, several people contacted me to express their interest, and in July I had some potential buyers coming up for the weekend to begin negotiations.

In my Wednesday morning Leads group, our real estate agent gave a presentation on selling your home, and in particular her emphasis was on creating “curbside appeal” by making necessary repairs and improvements to make that oh-so-important good first impression. I had already done a lot of work on the inside of the store, clearing out clutter from the back room, sale pricing slower items, returning old consignment, replacing light bulbs, and donating overstock books to various organizations around the county. I have always had a lot of satisfaction and pride in how clean, organized, and just outright beautiful the store is, filled with interesting books, fabulous crafts and magical goodies. I decided to walk across the street to get some perspective on the appearance of the building itself, and made my little to-do list.

Friday morning I got busy - washing windows, cleaning cobwebs, sweeping the sidewalks, creating a new window display, and repotting the outside plants. I was already premenstrual, and could harness my slightly psycho energy to pour the love into sprucing up the storefront. I left feeling slightly exhausted, but very pleased at the amount of energy I had put into bringing out the best of the business.

Saturday morning, the stars were against me. I miscommunicated with Amber’s other parent on pick up time, I was running late for work, and by now I was getting cramps. Arriving at Herland, I was completely shocked and dismayed to discover the store had been vandalized overnight. Many of the plant containers had been kicked over, and lay smashed all over the sidewalk, soil and succulents strewn everywhere.

Jill was there to pick up Amber, and I was so glad to have a friend give me a hug right away. After having a little boo-hoo in the back room, I decided it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it. I went outside and started to clean up the mess. Within minutes, two separate gentlemen came up to me to say how sorry they were to see the destruction. Later, a third man came into the store, also expressing his condolences, and to assure me that I did not deserve to be the victim of homophobia. As we shook hands, I thanked him for renewing my faith in Santa Cruz. In the afternoon, a woman came in carrying four new large terra cotta plant containers- her sister had driven by in the morning on her way out of town, and was outraged by the devastation. She asked her sister to buy me new containers and to deliver them for her.

Quite simply, this is why I live in here. I moved from feeling like an isolated victim to recognizing that while one asshole had decided to rain on my parade, five other people had gone out of their way to express their dismay at this injustice. It was a moment were I recognize that I am so blessed to be supported not just by the queer community, but the greater community of Santa Cruz. Now I am filled with gratitude to learn from this experience that love truly is bigger than hate.