Five hours from now, and a mile away from where I currently sit on a couch in east Nashville, Tennessee, my dear friend Denise will exchange vows with the person she's chosen for life.
Last night, she lifted his shoe to the sky to credit him in front of family and friends for being the one most likely to cook dinner on Sundays; to let her polish off the last of the wine; and to take the dog out first thing in the morning after a night on the town.
The Airbnb we've rented for the occasion has a deer skull on the wall, a set of antlers on the bedside table, and a giant American flag hanging above the couch. Gentle clucking noises drift in through the open window from the backyard, where the chickens live.
Sometimes it blows my mind how big "America" is, and how many subcultures it contains; each one acting out a different story about what it means to be "American." It is wild to get on a plane in San Francisco and wake up 6 hours later in another world; with a slower pace and friendlier strangers and a vastly different set of social norms, without ever having to show a passport.
Our first morning in Nashville, over fried chicken "Alarm Cluck" breakfast sandwiches (served, of course, with a short stack on the side), I learn that the UK has issued a travel warning for "the southern US" in response to theanti-LGBT laws that recently passed in North Carolina and Mississippi. This sparks a incredulous conversation about if/when secession by state will return as a serious/inevitable possibility.
At the same time, I receive an email about Camp Grounded's inspired responseto the legislation, of building a "Genderful Village" in its North Carolina, New York and Texas camps, as a safe space for everyone, regardless of how they identify - which unexpectedly moves me to tears.
Rather than get swept up in a destructive narrative with deep historical roots, this group has decided to build out a new story -one that champions love and inclusionover hate and bigotry - and to begin exactly where they are.
This is the beautiful and truly hopeful thing for everyone, no matter where or who you are: that every day, you get to choose which stories to believe in, which ones to reject, and which ones to start building from scratch.
We get to decide when the stories we inherited no longer serve us; and when it's time to shoulder the responsibility of creating new ones that will.