Live Free or Ice Dance

Hiro and I did two things with our Sunday.  We watched the last Olympic leg of the Team Ice Dancing competition and we drove to New Hampshire and shot some guns.  We didn’t do one to play off the other for effect.  Nor did we do either with any planning as Hiro isn’t much of an ‘ice-dance man’ and I sit squarely in the liberal fantasy land that is Boston fully in favor of a full repeal of the 2nd amendment.  Instead, we found our way into these activities and because they are of note, I thought I’d share them with you.

The Olympics themselves are the first hurdle.  I love the games and the sad sappy commercials that oft accompany them.  I love seeing athletes recognized for their abilities no matter how niche or otherwise uncelebrated.  I also love the emotion that comes of winning AND losing.  There is no moment like the one moment you have opportunity to prove your worth.  As sad as it is to see someone fall, tumble, foil their way through their event it’s ever more uplifting to see them comforted.  To see human spirit in its purest form come to the aid of one another blindly and with good faith.  These games are a tall(er) order, what with the human rights violations and seeming disregard for said companioned vigor by the host country.  I was all set to boycott the games!  No games!  Not in my house!  But, besides my fervent need to feel kinship with all that hope, I felt it a great disservice to those athletes that are there based on their merit.  They did not chose for Sochi to host.  They only chose to be good/great/best in their field and can still use all the support we, as their adoring fans, can muster.  At any rate that’s how I justified that.  And that’s how we found ourselves ice-dance aficionados.

We don’t know anything about ice-dancing, and if I hear the phrase “side-by-side twizzle sequence” once more I’m afraid I may never hear anything else.  But we were into it.  It was graceful and athletic and synchonized.  Before I knew it Hiro had fully seated himself at my side and we TALKED A BIG GAME at the Jonny Weir about what it takes to truly execute a side-by-side twizzle sequence, thank you very much.

In all honesty I could have devoted my whole day to that, but ice-dance knows how to make an exit and Hiro and I were left with two choices.  Make a further dent in the sofa and become intimate with insane ski jumping or do something else with our day.  Because I’d sooner defer to adventure I chose the latter.

flower gun

“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt”

Let me build off my earlier disclaimer.  I don’t like guns.  I hate them, really.  I want only to live in a place without them and can’t imagine having one anywhere near me without a lock, and a box, and another lock and a safe.  I have, however, shot one before.  Two, actually.  It was years back at the ranch of a then boyfriend in none other than Texas.  Then BF and I were already fading fast and my trip to meet his parents did little more than solidify the fact that this whole trip was going the way of my journal and a memory store I’d work extra hard to purge.  That may be why, when offered, I agreed to shoot those guns.  Even when my judgment told me to go back in the ranch house and read a book and let the boys and the ranch hand point big shot guns at clay pigeons with the right hands, while holding firmly onto bottles of Shiner Bock(s) in the other.  It seemed unsafe and reckless and my anxiety was mounting.  I was sad to be stuck in a place I didn’t belong and mad to have made that choice.  I felt alien and prudish and frustrated so I took that shot gun and did as they said.

I did not shoot the clay pigeon.  I shot off into some vast air target never to see my bullet meet matter.  I did, however, feel some crazy backfire in my shoulder from the butt of the gun and quickly gave up.

That was six years ago and I’ve long since forgotten the feeling, but somewhere in the back stores of my mind I must have equated the release of a trigger with that of frustration.  I may have mixed memories and convinced myself that all the trouble I had with the former BF was made palatable, or at least unleashed some irritation by way of firearm.  I don’t know if that’s the leap I made then, but I think that’s what I convinced myself today, as I found myself asking Hiro if we could go to a gun range.

There was a catalyst.  I got some bad news that I did not take well.  In fact I threw a chair.  I put all my hopes and dreams in a plan I’d concocted that had little chance of being realized, but somehow convinced myself was going to happen.  That all my future success and happiness was contingent on this one thing.  And when that thing didn’t materialize I spent the better part of yesterday in a sordid state.  I would not hear anything positive.  I would NOT make new plans because the plans I make are a waste and why try when all that’s promised is failure?  I had a quick no to every available yes and I wanted nothing more than to sit in silence alone.  Still something had me say to him that I wanted to try a shooting range.  I cannot connect this to anything less the association of my past experience.  And Hiro seemed as shocked as I.  “You?  Shoot a gun?”  But perhaps he thought I was being cheeky – that some light had seeped through my otherwise pallid face.  Maybe he thought I was trying to be rebellious and try something new and grew excited with the prospect of the woman he knows so well returning to him.  Or perhaps the idea was simply appealing to him.  He who stems from Japan, a country without weaponry for its citizens.  A country so regulated that to have a gun, of any kind would make you a law enforcement official or a member of the seedy underbelly of the Yakuza mob contingent.  So, in all, this might have been a once-in-a-lifetime exercise for him.  Whatever the case he called his friend and set it up.

His buddy Ryan is a big gun enthusiast.  Ryan hails from New Hampshire (LIVE FREE OR DIE) and has a responsible arsenal of weapons he keeps at his family’s house under lock and key.  He is prodigious and kind.  He brought us ammo and an array of guns.  He gave us each careful instruction, with everything from where to stand, to how to lay down your weapon, to how to shoot, to how to not trip over a bullet fragment and kill the gun enthusiast next to you.  He saw I was afraid and also knew me as a fire breathing liberal who is trying to deny his rights at each and every opportunity.  Still, he was kind.  He let me shoot a pistol first.  I was told this was a P226 combat edition handgun.  This is something Navy Seals use, meaning I have NO RIGHT HANDLING THIS GUN.  He instructed me to take my time and breathe in and out.  He showed me how and aim, and when I was finally able, after some seven breaths I shot directly in the bulls eye.

This would be momentous except that the target was quite close and I’m not certain that bullet hole was mine.  There was some fine firing before me and Ryan may have been trying to build up my experience or help in whatever way he could offset my bad news.  Whatever it was, a gun is just what I thought it would be.  It is powerful and terrifying and hard to handle.  It’s a bully that I’ve no right palling around with, but I’m glad I gave it a shot (PUN INTENDED).

He then pulled out a Colt AR-17 (a tactical rifle) from what I originally thought to be a large trombone case.  (Again I must reiterate that Ryan is legal in his possessions and takes great care to always keep his rifles locked and secure).  But still, an assault rifle?  Why?  How is this in my hands?  I couldn’t keep myself from shaking or my backfire googles from knocking against the tactical lens in rhythmic taps.  But this was a controlled experience.  I likened myself to an FBI agent, a CIA wonder, a hero of good things.  My target was a large blown up poster of a stock photo’ed hostage and hostage taker.  I took my job seriously, taking EXTRA careful time and attention not to hit my hostage.  I used up the few bullets I had and nearly collapsed from the stress of it.  I stand by my assertion that guns be gone.

There were others, including an AK-47 that I was too scared to try (but shot one, for effort) after which I threw up my hands in surrender.  For as safe as one can be – as by-the-book rigid in rule as Ryan was – I am too impressed by their power to add to it mine.

It didn’t do anything to de-stress and I am very glad of that.  It would be a terrifying thing if my anger was such that I needed death-yielding machines to subside it.  Instead, it called to clarity my position and convictions on the subject.  It reignited long held beliefs and reminded me of why we feel the way we do about things.  It reminded me that I feel that way I feel because I’m feeling it and sometimes there is nothing in the world more helpful than the mere acceptance of that.