Alas I never did meet Mayor Pete or even make it up to the campaign headquarters.
But I did meet Pops, the security guard outside the building on the sidewalk this beautiful sunny day.
It’s Pops who tells me that no, you can’t go up without an appointment.
Pops is generous and spends some time talking with me. He thinks Mayor Pete’s done a good job for South Bend — yet his campaign should have opened that place to buy tee shirts and bumper stickers months ago for the tourists and curiousity seekers like me who’ve descended from all over! (Yes, I would have bought both!)
He has his own good thoughts of what would turn the city around – move the train station from the airport to downtown so that South Bend could be a good commuter city to Chicago.
“It’s cheaper here and we don’t have the violence like in Chicago. There were 43 shootings in Chicago last weekend, 9 here… only one person killed.”
“It’s kids raising kids,” he goes on to say and shares his ideas about how to give the responsibility back to their families.
“Some people judge Mayor Pete for being gay, I don’t,” Pops says, “That’s between him and God.”
I think of the statement from the Vatican yesterday that gender fluidity is not natural, and a “threat” to the “natural” distinctions between men and women. I wonder what that says about my gender fluid and trans friends who seem quite real and natural to me. I think about the violence and harm that such statements cause. I think of how much we need new stories and public figures like Mayor Pete who live their lives openly as who they are.
I ask Pops if I could take his picture to remember him. “I’m not photgenic” he says, “You will have to just remember me.”
Pops directs me to City Hall and I wander around downtown.
Discover parts of history I never knew.
…Got the picture I came for after the conversation I was blessed to have.
I told Pops I realized I came to South Bend to meet and talk to him. It’s true I don’t always “know” exactly what I’ve come looking for but sometimes in wandering I find out just what it is.