Monday, July 09, 2007

Observations from the weekend

Yesterday was the Southwest Regional Masters Rowing Championships, held on Lake Natoma in Sacramento, as it is just about every year. The lake is the product of having dammed the American River, and the regatta is held in the little shore-side park right at the dam. The river is glacial and snowpack meltwater from the sierra, so it's clear and cool. And being Sacramento in July, the temperature is regularly in the triple digits. Yesterday was no exception.

The racing went well. Two gold, one silver, one bronze, four races. I came home dehydrated and exhausted, but satisfied.

The rowers weren't the only inhabitants of the park. There were the usual stray kayakers on the water, most of whom had the good sense to stay out of the way of the rowing boats. There were also the usual locals out to use the park that day. They could be distinguished from the rowers by the presence of cigarettes, gross obesity, barbecues, screaming splashing children and tragic fashion choices, such as the maudlin "America, fuck yeah!" eagles and flags and slogans style t-shirts. I observed a two pumping up their bright yellow inflatable kayak, and carefully sealing their cigarettes in a zip-loc bag, preparing to launch. Because nothing helps you enjoy the serenity of the outdoors like a cancer stick. Plus, why should I go without one for more than 30 minutes?

I'd really like to believe that we're all really the same. But I find it hard at times. I struggle to cultivate any compassion for people whose choices I may understand, but of which I don't approve. I know those folks are living what they know, living what they saw growing up, and living as much luxury as they can afford. I get it. Hell, I'm related to folks living not too dissimilar a life. I've been to many a white trash picnic in the park with my extended family as a kid. I was the kid hoping to catch a catfish with a cheeto on a paperclip on some string. Klassy.

It's all a reminder about how socially and economically homogeneous and distorted my life is here. I don't bump into those folks in my daily life, even though they're basically average Americans, just of the 916 distinction.