The Alder Grove

"In my sleep thought that I was standing in an alder grove of the straightest and fairest trees which the heart of man could think of or imagine."

The Long Overdue Post: the wrap-up

The day after The Reason Rally and meeting my science icon for the first time (the Toronto debate did not count as "meeting", lol). I had hoped originally to do some sightseeing in DC but time was *really* tight with packing in so many events. And Bill Nye the Science Guy was hosting StarTalk Live! at AwesomeCon....can't say no to some Science Guy action. Had I some extra cash lying around for the trip, I would have loved to get some VIP tickets and meet him but sadly, not to be. So we hung out at the comic book nerdfest (not my thing but definitely Bree's). I took some pics in the spirit of the event but I wasn't in my element until I found an aisle of MY PEOPLE!!! Headed by a table from The Planetary Society and other such science geeks. StarTalk was amazing, really happy to see David Grinspoon on the panel (but let's face it, I was hoping for certain scientists who happened to be in town, heh).

The one thing that was most important to me on this weekend of science and skepticism was to do something, even just to take a moment, to remember the one person sadly missing from an event like this. Everyone felt his absence....Hitch.

Christopher Hitchens was one of the most important authors of our time. Journalist, author, raconteur, contrarian, Trotsky-ite...the adjectives could go on and on. He was handsome, charming, passionate, and fearless. He had a recall for everything he's read and a command of language that was breathtaking. Plus he was gifted with a beautiful speaking voice and a wit so sharp it could cut you in half...when he wasn't using it to tell you filthy jokes. He could write at a pace that would stun you...and drink so much you would wonder how it didn't stun him. A tireless advocate for reason and atheism (or anti-theism), he influenced everyone who ever heard him speak or read his words. And we lost him before any of us were ready for him to go. Four years on there is still an empty hole in everyone's life where Hitch used to be.

We had bandied around many ideas on how to take a moment to remember him, many we simply did not have time for. But there was one that I would not be swayed from. One place that was the most important place for me to be that day...the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Jefferson and he both shared a birthday. And anyone who is familiar with Christopher's work knows how much he admired Jefferson, having written a book about him. It's also the place he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.

The Jefferson Memorial is fairly complex to get to actually, but it's in an absolutely gorgeous location on the Potomac. It has shady paths winding around it and just a stunning view of the rest of DC. I had to take a moment to myself just to have a few quiet moments and just remember Christopher Hitchens and what he had meant to me. How I would likely not be standing in this spot at all had he not been this part of my life. Wish I had been presented with the opportunity to meet him. But those of us he influenced strive every day to live up to the example that he set and even though he is gone, we try to make him proud of the legacy he left. After a while, we took some photos and called an Uber because it was insanely humid, I was running lowish on time as Sunday night I had to leave for the loooooong bus ride back across the border. While there and wearing our atheist pride out in the open for all to see, we were confronted by yet ANOTHER Christian crackpot from the rally. And buddy, you picked the wrong time, place and frame of mind to push you idiotic ideas on me. I was ready to throw down with this guy and at the end he figured he'd won as we had to get our ride. I told him I'd be more than happy to pick this up via email. He agreed and said he had all *sorts* of evidence that he could send me. Then he realized I was serious and suddenly he had to get to work...

BOOM...don't mess with me. I do not bluff.

So, after a weekend of very little sleeping and the kind of humidity that makes people have heart attacks...I got on my bus to go home with a miserable summer cold. Pretty much one of the worst bus trips of my life, made worse by having to leave such a fun and completely inspiring weekend.