More than a few years back, an old friend of mine from El Paso spent some time in Houston. He was there for tests at MD Anderson hospital. At night, he stayed at his sister's house. She lived in a well-managed, well-manicured, gated community just outside the city.
"At first, it was great," he said. "You could set your watch by when the paper hit the porch every morning, or when the street sweepers swooshed by."
Yet, by the end of the week, he was nearly crazy. He couldn't wait to get to the hospital every day to get more bad news.
My friend's tale helps me understand the mystery of Bisbee. For some people, Bisbee is a step back in time, a drive through the tunnel to a past that most have forgotten. For others it is weird Bisbee, the town that Charles Manson said he would retire to, if he gets out of jail. Let's hope not.
For me the image that sums it all up is the cracked cup.
The cracked cup stands for the real and broken world, instead of a fake world that is paved and painted over, with green lawns, golf courses, and BMWs everywhere. This is a world hermetically sealed off from the decaying and moldy stuff, a world made shiny and new by our developer-gurus, intent on shoving all that is not new and recently-bought out of sight. Generica, MacWorld.
To me, all that seamless sameness means certain death.
The cracked cup stands for the imperfect, the crooked, the smelly, the truly alive, life that is not filled with death. Only when a little something is wrong, or twisted, or chipped can the spirit or grace worm its way in. To me, that's Bisbee's secret, the source of its elemental spirits.
If our town were a smile it would have a tooth missing. When someone in town fixes a place up, someone else two doors down decides to let her place go a little more.
Oh, and no home delivery for the mail. People love going to the Post Office and to see their friends.
That’s why Bisbee, as a site where gay marriage makes perfect sense, seems so natural.
Bisbee helps us see that perfection is a false lover, and the cracked, the different, the crooked, is how the light gets in, is where and when life gets in.