The Thing About America

Hello dear reader(s)!

Yesterday, and last night have been a couple of terrible days for me.  The details are still too raw for me to talk about all of them, but after a day that shook my core, right down to my will to keep going in a world full of pain that just should not exist; it was capped off by finding out that an old friend of mine had died suddenly while I was out trying to pull myself out of the tailspin.

Jason wasn’t just an old friend, he is the person who made me want to take my drumming from something to do in a middle school elective class, to actually wanting to play in a band.  I believe it was the summer between 7th and 8th grade when my brother brought me to see his friends’ band Blue Mourning, at a practice.  I loved it, made my brother get me their cassette tape (because this was before everyone could easily make CD’s, and well before mp3), and wore that thing out.  Jason let me play some cover songs with the rest of the band after they were finished.  Despite the fact that the only full song I could play at that point in time was “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, he was extremely nice and encouraging.

He was an amazing drummer.  Even then.  A lot of people were flashier, a lot of people hit harder (which for some reason earns drummers a lot of fans), but Jason had this loose style that made everything seem effortless.  He was pretty solid, and he was great at playing for the music.  He was funny, and goofy, and I don’t think he would hurt a fly.  After Blue Mourning split, Tobin and Dale and I formed Sprout, and Jason and some other friends formed Orange Peel.  My very first shows were with Orange Peel, and in the beginning, if we were playing a show, you could be certain that we were playing those shows with Orange Peel.

As with almost everyone from that scene, when I decided I was done, I lost touch with Jason.  He moved away.  I moved away.  Everyone moved away.  And like a lot of people I lost touch with, Facebook came around and we were friends again.  Unlike a lot of the people who I got back into touch with through Facebook, Jason and I stayed friends.  This morning I was staring at one of the last texts from him on my phone, about the new band he was playing with and how excited he was.  And now he is gone.  Just like that, another great person missing from humanity.

And after that, I got out of bed, brought the flag out and hung it up outside.  It is Independence Day here in the US, and as imperfect as our union can be, I still love my country.  As I have said before, I am not proud to be an American (because I was just born here, & you shouldn’t be proud of geographical birth), but I consider myself pretty lucky to be here.  We are not (contrary to the opinion of many of my countrymen) “The Greatest Nation on Earth”, but we keep trying to live up to our promise.

And so this flag, this flag of a nation built upon ideals it has never succeeded in living up to, built with the capital from the broken backs of the enslaved, this nation of fuck-ups who talked a good game and are still in the process of walking the talk; this flag gave me some comfort.  Not enough to erase the pain I feel today, but enough to prevent me from completely giving in to it.

Why?

Because that is the thing about America.  We are always trying to be a “more perfect union”.  There are some people among us who don’t want that, there are some people among us who think we were perfect 20, 40, or 60 years ago.  There are some people who deep-down, wish they weren’t a part of this union…but over all, we try.  We keep trying.  We fuck up, we fall down, and we get up and keep trying.  We’ve done some horrible things to innocent people all throughout our history.  We’ve abandoned and re-embraced the ideals we were founded on countless times.  We’ve reverted, and leapt forward.  We’ve had some very dark history, and we’ve been a beacon of light.  We’ve been the laughing-stock and the envy of the world.

At many points in time we have given into the worst parts of our nature, only to snap out of it and try to progress.  We’ve all disagreed on how to get there, we’ve let fear distract us from our goals at times, but we realign and try again.  2 steps forward, 1 back.  2 more steps forward, 3 back.  3 steps forward, 1 back.  1 step forward.  Over all, we try to go forward.

The reason I can fly the US flag, but I despise the Confederate flag, (despite both countries embracing slavery and the idea that people could be less due to melanin), is that the Confederacy was about holding on to our mistakes, while the US, (over all), tries to acknowledge and move past them.  Both have sordid pasts, but one mostly attempts to fix where they were wrong, and the other started a war to remain in the wrong.

The thing about America, is that America is a parallel to life.  We have our good days, we have our bad days.  We get knocked around, and we fight back.  Sometimes we are the bully and need to look within ourselves and figure out why and stop it.  We are all on this path to be more perfect, sometimes we stray from it, but as long as we don’t abandon it completely, we’re going to move forward.

The thing about America, whatever hardships we face, whatever mistakes we make, whatever factions of evil walk among us; the thing about America is that it is full of people like Jason.

The most recent footage of Jason I could find.

Please support Jason’s funeral fund here if you possibly can.

Rest in peace, Hosko.

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Author: Josh Wrenn

Cancer survivor, wanna-be artist, musician, author, and all around good guy.

16 thoughts on “The Thing About America”

  1. Haven’t read any of your posts in awhile but glad I read this one. I’m sorry about your friend Jason and whatever your going through I know you and Hannah will be strong for one another, miss both your faces. Have a good as you can 4th of July. Good day to be an American.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Josh, it is terrible to lose a friend. I have had it happen and I know the feeling of shock and despair. I am truly sorry about your loss.

    As for America, I think you have, once again, expressed my feelings exactly. We at least keep trying to do the right thing. Why we have a faction in this country that believes in meanness, and in hanging on to the worst of our past baffles me. But, though they are noisy and demanding, they are a minority. I think most of us do the best we can in the end.

    I feel lucky to live here too, in spite of everything. Happy Fourth Sunday.

    Liked by 2 people

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