An open mind

Sometimes, GOP elephants are nice!
Sometimes, GOP elephants are nice! // Creative Commons

I left the Happiest City in America — according to The Huffington Post — to come to New Haven. In my first six months on the East Coast, there’s been a hurricane and a snowstorm, and Yale has canceled four days of classes. The gutters are overflowing with sock-soaking slush. I’ve had to shell out hundreds for new jackets and sweaters to protect me from this revolutionary concept: seasons. What on earth was I thinking?

I miss San Francisco. I miss 45–65 degree weather year-round, Dolores Park, Blue Barn sandwiches, Crissy Field and pairing floral-print thrift shop dresses with combat boots and ripped tights. I have a particular affinity for dip-dyed hair and club cards. What I don’t miss about San Francisco: No Republican candidates ever come to speak.

San Francisco is one of the most liberal cities in the country, rivaled only by our neighbor Berkeley and New York City (maybe). I love my granola-crunching hippies in floor-length acid-wash skirts and with no bras on. I love the Castro and our fierce defense of women’s rights. Since moving east, I’ve realized that I’ve always unknowingly associated having an open mind with a belief in liberal ideals. This isn’t a completely ill-founded association in my opinion, but I had never met someone who openly opposed gay marriage before coming to Yale. The token Republican in my high school class was persecuted throughout Obama’s first presidential campaign, called out and made to speak for the Republican Party as a whole.

Flash-forward four years and one of my best friends at Yale and I are walking down a Manhattan street searching for a slice of pizza. We come upon a storefront sporting an enticing pasta-topped pie, and as I’m taking off my coat and getting my wallet out of my rain-soaked purse, she tells me she’s a creationist. Adrenaline streams into my veins; my fingers tense around the edges of my wallet, and my face contorts into an expression of shock with perhaps a noticeable touch of disgust (I have pretty much zero control over my face when I’m surprised). All I could think was, “How?” How could someone educated enough to come to Yale possibly think that God created man? Doesn’t she know about all the evidence we have for evolution? I turn my attention to ordering food as I try to sort out how to respond. The pitiful image of the devoted Christian Republican I’ve subconsciously harbored (even at times consciously) because of the place I grew up suddenly becomes apparent and frustrating. I really like Renee. She’s a great friend and I want to have her in my life. But we disagree on such a fundamental belief about the nature of life itself. So I decide to just ask questions, to learn more.

Renee and I are still best friends. That’s pretty incredible in my opinion. If you’d told me a year ago I’d be this close to a creationist from Las Vegas, I’d have told you you’re foolish and left it at that. The place I come from is incredible and I sincerely plan on returning to it when I get older, but moving out of the country’s happiest, and my favorite, city hasn’t been so bad. I remain a liberal, and, even beyond that I understand my own beliefs, their limitations and potential for closed-mindedness. I am better able to defend these beliefs, not against sensationalized versions of Republican principles, but against people I care about.

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