I’m finishing my freedom road-trip of Covid rebellion. I stayed home for seventy days, then couldn’t take it anymore. I had to go. It was a trip that lead me through middle America, the heartland, the America that most international tourists don’t get to see.
It started at the monument of our leading men carved into a natural wonder. We have a history of trying to conquer our land, either in the west, the horizon via skyscrapers, or on the side of a mountain: Mt. Rushmore.
The trip went through Minneapolis, where protests gathered. Did you know that some states have bills going that will make it illegal to protest in the future? My heart hurt when I heard about George Floyd. Brutality is NOT okay. That’s not my America.
The trip went through Standing Rock where I had conflicting feelings of admiration and distraught.
It went past the pristine wild lands of the Great Lakes, a stark contrast against tough city streets, where you can’t be a wussy to survive, Detroit. I watched a guy pass in the crosswalk with his pants riding very low. He had big hundred dollar bills printed on them. He scooped down and handed some cash to a street person sitting below a traffic light. That spoke to me.
I went past football and baseball stadiums that I’d only seen on TV, all shut down from Covid. Empty shells of what should be.
It went past the largest Mosque in North America in Dearborn, Michigan. It was sandwiched between two Christian churches and a few doors down from a strip-club. I passed a row of mansions, where a sign read in English and Arabic, “We don’t care where you moved here from. You’re our neighbors”.
I drove through the farmlands of Indiana, to the place where Westward Expansion began, St. Louis.
And seeing this little known America, it’s gas station attendants, empty graffiti-ed streets, train yards, and farmsteads made me ask what it means to be American more than ever.
What is America?
Who are Americans?
Like Playdough I’m always massaging and mulling over those questions in my mind.
Are we the beauty of our natural lands? Baseball games? Barbeque?
Are we the biggest spenders in the world on the military industrial complex?
Are we American muscle, Midwest Steele, dying farmsteads?
Are we ugly things like racist killers, angry looters, the world’s highest prison population, or the KKK? Or are we friendly neighbors who welcome immigrants as their neighborhood changes? People who take care of each other. People who stand together. United.
I’m constantly asking myself what it means to be an American and a patriot. I’m wishing freedom from oppression for all people across the world. We’ve always got more in common than we do that separates us.
Stay free. Stay loud. Stay wild. Stay humble. Respect life.
Headed back to the mountains. Ready to regroup, repack and head out for a summer on the road. Time to 𝕋ℝ𝕆𝕌ℕℂ𝔼.