Victoria S. Hardy

Victoria S. Hardy

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Night Swimming

Night Swimming 

I like night swimming, I always have.  Not swimming in a pool where you know you are safe, but in rivers and lakes - at night - when it’s dark, and you’re throwing caution to the wind.  Literally, since I was at an age to have my own car I’ve always kept towels, a bathing suit, and a change of clothes in the trunk in case I felt the need to run to the beach or lake and go swimming.  Last night was one of those nights.  There was a storm brewing, but when you need a swim, you just need to swim.

This week of political agendas and facebook friends deleting each other for their opinions, and my simple attempt to claim a piece of my heritage - knowing that if we erase the past we are seconds from repeating it - made me need water, lots and lots of water. 

I have been night swimming for thirty years of my life since I left the protection of my elders, and it’s a special thing to me.  If I go to the beach for an extended time I am in the water at night, out beyond the crashing waves, swimming and floating and looking at the moon and stars, with little to no fear of creatures eating me.  

Last night, after a week of chaos, I just had to go.  Damn the storm!  Luckily, I have a husband who doesn’t actually share my need for lots and lots of water, but understands that it is part of who I am.  We drove through storms and crazily fogged roads after days of one hundred degree temps and reached the lake.  There were a few cars in the lot by the dam.  Most had bikes and were racing each other on the highway over the dam, but there was no one in the water. 

The water level in our lake is very high right now, and the beach is now part of the lake, a gentle slope down to the depths.  The paths are mostly erased and one has to work hard over the rocks to reach the water.  I left the car, and my clothes on the rocks, and struggled to reach the water - not seeing the easier path, but that is another thing that defines me.  I sank into the water, striking out, floating, and sighing away the stress and the chaos that we now call normal. 

As I lay in the water, feeling the drops of rain on my face, and listening to the thunder roll, I finally felt some peace.  I looked around at the space I was in and realized I was the only person in the water, despite the cars in the parking lot and the boats in the distance.  And then I realized that in my thirty years of night swimming, outside of organized water and pools, I’ve always done it alone. 

I swam back to shore and sat with my husband on the rocks for a moment, expressing my realization of how folks didn’t swim in lakes and rivers at night, and how it emphasized I was different and alone in my difference.  Maybe I was a little melancholy because the battles this week showed me that I am very much alone. 

God is funny and weird and good, and last night I felt Him.  As soon as the words left my mouth about being the lone night swimmer a hoard of people appeared above us, trying to discern the rocky path to the water.   Eight or so folks were there to swim at night and I realized as much as I feel alone in this world a lot of times, I’m not alone, and that is the message I took with me.  We’re not all afraid to strike out into the water as the thunder rolls above and the skies are dark. 

As they came down on our tiny beach and enjoyed the water the sky began to clear and the stars and moon came out, and although I have no idea of who they were, or their trials in life, I knew they were like me.  I only caught one name and it was a toddler named Iris, and again I knew that God was showing me that I am not alone.  You see Iris is a song by the Goo Goo Dolls that both my son and I loved and often sang together in the car on our errands before he died, and I can never hear it without thinking of him.

So as the world rages, deeper and deeper, calling accusations out to anyone, and ending friendships over opinions, I have night swimming.  I will continue to love all people no matter their color, sexual orientation, or opinions.  And last night with the thunder, lightning, and fog, I found that I was not alone as I swam in the dark.

As always, keep seeking and keep believing.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Save the Confederate Flag

Save the Confederate Flag

The Confederate Flag issue seems to be making me a little crazy, as well as everyone else I’ve listened to or read in the last days, and I know that it is a delicate issue.  I grew up in a world of soldiers - WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and my brother is now in Afghanistan.  I am a Daughter of the American Revolution, and my ancestors fought in the Civil War. 

To me the Confederate Flag is a symbol of rebellion, and despite how the history books have changed to fit the needs of the world, or at least guide the students to where their “thinking space” is in the acceptable place, I know that the flag was about rebellion. 

I got in a lot of trouble in sixth grade social studies when “Roots” came out because I challenged the teacher on several points – you see I spent my weekends in archives with my father chasing down history.  My history teacher didn’t even know what the archives were, but she knew Alex Haley would tell no lies.  My father was, among many other things, a genealogist and a historian, and he long complained about the records being changed before his eyes, and if it wasn’t old ladies with hidden fountain pens trying to make their family upper crust, or at least erase some shame in the old census books, it was the new retelling of history on a national TV network.  

I was not raised to be racist.  I was born in 1965 during the Civil Rights movement in Georgia.  My father insisted we treat all people equally, and as a man in power to hire others, he hired people of a skin color darker than our own and paid them well, if not better, than those of our own pink hue.  My ancestors not only fought in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, they also funded the first black college in NC.

I will feel no weight under what is happening in the world now.  The flag is rebellion, and trust me my ancestors were rebelling when they saw something other than skin.  My ancestors also fought side by side with people of a darker hue in the Civil War. 

The world is saying this flag caused the murder of nine people studying the Bible, but no one is addressing another murderer on too damned many pharmaceuticals (he was arrested a few months earlier for pharmaceuticals).  And no one is addressing that it was a church and it was Christians who were killed.

And now the world says I need to be ashamed of my heritage.  I wonder which part I should be ashamed of - the fact that my ancestors fought proudly to free us from European control, the fact that my ancestors worked diligently to lift the African Americans out of poverty, or that I have light eyes and hair?   

I feel no shame.  And although I never carried the stars and bars, I love my brothers and sisters who understand history and stand for it every day.  Maybe I have been lackadaisical as I grew up under the historian and I didn’t always listen as well as I should have, but I’m listening and reviewing now. 

I’m standing up for the Confederate Flag, call me any name you like, but it’s the South, it’s God, and it’s Rebellion, and I know where I came from, despite what colleges are teaching now.  My father was adamant about history when he was alive, and he often stated the importance of never forgetting where we had been, lest we do it again.

We are on the cusp of doing it again, if we erase all memories of what happened before then we are steps away from doing it again.  My father used to say it would only take three generations to change the thinking of a nation, and I am literally in shock seeing it happen in my face. 

This post originated from evidently not understanding the color wars rage on.  It hurt my feelings terribly that a friend of mine, his skin darker than mine, brought the race issue up yesterday.  I was shocked, I was hurt, and I was terribly dismayed.  I barely slept. 

Seems my father’s prophecies are coming true.  I won’t scoff because I also see things happening before they do.  And now I am remembering all those trips to cemeteries, sitting on the porches beside swamps with elderly black folks and eating catfish, or sitting in fine homes of white folks in the middle of dying cities and drinking tea while my father jotted notes in his notebook, or running the microfiche in libraries and archives, or taking machetes through the back forty of someone’s property to find the old family cemetery to scribble down names and dates.

The flag is rebellion and that is why the war is raging.  And hell, I might have to find my own flag.  Please don’t give in to the one world order, claim your culture, and my culture is just as important.  I love Southerners, I love New Englanders, I love Westerners, I love all folks who made their way here to make a life.  We have a great country and our differences are what make us great.  Once they take my flag, my culture, know that they are coming for yours as well.

As always, keep seeking.

Thursday, June 04, 2015



Wow is a multi-purpose word.  It can be used in the sight of destruction or birth.  It is often utilized to describe the delicate tastes of foods or wines or to express pain.  It is can be heard on videos showing us the colors of a sunrise, sunset, rainbows, or a tornado.  It’s a good word.

I suppose when we use any word the reader wants to see the picture, but as H.P. Lovecraft taught us long ago - sometimes seeing the picture takes from the story.  Sometimes we should only use our own senses to tell us what the monster, or the sunrise, looks like.

The world is so interconnected these days, you could make a statement and the next thing you know your neighbor is asking, or your cousin three times removed has called, but some things need to be enjoyed, without sharing, and just punctuated with the word -Wow!

I don’t like surprises, but still the unexpected creeps up under my skin.  I am not one for practical jokes, but God has a way, even at my age, to still throw something unexpected into the mix.  And all those who know me, know that I love God and absolutely know He has an amazing, sometimes disturbing, sense of humor.

In my day I have used to word to elucidate many things, if only to myself, and I remember the old School House Rock education on television in the 70s where Wow was always punctuated with an exclamation mark, and rightly it should be.  Wow things are simply wow, and not to be confused with other words or pedestrian things.  Wow things wake us up, or make us cry, or change our very being for having been blessed to witness or experience them. 

Sometimes sharing our Wow lessens it, so although I may share this tidbit of information, I won’t share what inspired it, because the simple inspiration is all that matters.  

Standing a little taller and sharing a laugh with God.