When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one person to leave the People’s Republic of Vermont, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that he declare the causes which impel him to the separation.
I have lived in this, my favorite state, for 13 years, which in the eyes of Vermonters makes me a tourist.
I love everything about the place, with the possible exception of the final 23 months of each year’s winter.
The air is salubrious, the people reasonable, the government competent, animals abundant, trout streams flowing, landscape and bicycle riding magnificent.
Why, then, am I leaving tomorrow? For the same reason I left my Previously Preferred Place, the Tohono O’odham reservation, 33 years ago: Because, as Sgt. Preston of the Yukon used to tell his Trusty Dog at the end of each episode: “King, this case is closed.”
Maybe, like Steve Martin, I’m just a ramblin’ guy. More likely, it’s because I have seen my future here, as I saw it on the rez — and it’s the same as my past.
Not that there is anything wrong with my past — be it six years or 13. But when the face of every tomorrow fits the mold of every yesterday, I cry, “Hold, enow!” and ask, like Lear, to be allowed to crawl unburdened toward death. Or life.
I have no illusions that moving 2,000 miles will change me. But it will change some things that happen to me. I’m moving to Colorado for the same reason that I would not read my favorite book over and over again, forever.
Not because I think the next book will be better than Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi. But it will be different.
OK, here’s the real reason.
In November last year I flew to Denver to attend my niece’s wedding. A great time was had by me. Then I hung around for a week baby-sitting my sister’s dog, Lila. I walked around Denver that week and read the election returns.
On Tuesday, Denver voters agreed to tax themselves nearly $1 billion for a public bond, most of which will be spent on libraries, hospitals and parks.
Also that Tuesday, voters in Denver County and all the counties around it defeated every single school board candidate who supported charter schools.
I have no problem with charter schools. But I have a Big Problem with starving public schools of tax dollars to shovel money in buckets to wealthy white folks who don’t need it, and whose children will inherit it, instead of going hungry for lack of it.
Whether charter schools are good, bad or indifferent — better than public schools or worse — I believe I can say truthfully: Most backers of charter schools are white Christian right-wing Republicans, willfully ignorant, sucking up our tax dollars to spread their venom.
They think that spending tax dollars to educate poor black and brown children robs white children in private schools of … something, I guess.
Now you know where I stand.
Returning to the main theme of our rondo: I rejoiced when every one of the charter school candidates lost, in and around Denver.
I say, with most of our nation’s 126 million workers: I Got My Job Through Public Education.
Here is the clincher.
One night, after strolling through some car-free blocks in downtown Denver, I strode into the Grand Central Station. A poster there explained that the train station’s improvements had been funded by a public bond of nearly $1 billion, from Denver voters.
You know what a U.S. train station looks like, don’t you?
Sure, you do. It looks like hell. Always did when I had to catch a train.
Not Denver’s. There’s a bookstore, a seafood market and a coffee shop. Couches — not benches, couches — with padded seats. Chess tables, with people playing chess.
High school and college students hung out under the cut-glass chandeliers — that’s right, chandeliers — because Denver’s train station is a cool place to hang out.
So I’m heading west to Denver, because it will make my life different — not better, necessarily, but different. And as Robert Frost said, that could make all the difference.