I think I might be a sleeper spy someone forgot to wake up.
By Fox News standards, I’m basically a Dreamer: My parents came from Canada and my grandparents (all four) emigrated from Ukraine when it was still part of Russia (at least one under hay in a wagon, fleeing conscription from the Czar’s army). Therefore, I am suspect in the eyes of 63 million people.
I know spies keep secrets, but is it possible that they even keep secrets from themselves? How would I know if I’m a Soviet spy, leftover from the Cold War and just waiting for the perfect moment to wreak havoc on my adopted country?
When I look back, my roots as a dissident are obvious. My earliest memory of protesting the world order involves marching with my parents in 1963 as part of an historic march to desegregate Gwynn Oak Amusement Park. I was 11.
In 1968 at age 16, I earned my first suspension when I and a group of other Pikesville High School students defiantly lowered the flag to half-mast in honor of the four students murdered at Kent State. When I was finally allowed to return to school three days later, I wore my punishment as a red badge of courage (one of the books we had to read that year) among my fellow classmates.
That’s the same year I formally enter politics by campaigning for Sen. Eugene McCarthy in his ill-fated bid for president. My mother must have been in on the plot, because I’m pretty sure she went door-to-door with me.
Somehow I survived these early intrigues and made it to college. After a couple of tame antiwar rallies in college, I finally went big in 1972, when I got tear-gassed and arrested during a Vietnam War protest. Somehow I was mistaken for a hippie protestor and thrown in the clink with hundreds of other long-haired operatives, consigned to three days of bologna sandwiches — on white bread! Have they no pride? (To be fair, we all know that “Pride” wouldn’t come for at least another decade.) Little did my jailors know that they were dealing not just with someone who carries a copy of the living-off-the-land bible “Stalking The Wild Asparagus” in her backpack, but a trained agent in l’arte du espionage! (Well, to be honest, neither did I.)
Luckily for me, that was all just a little misunderstanding that was quickly cleared up by the ACLU when they brought a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General John Mitchell for arresting us illegally as we were being addressed by our elected representatives on the Capitol Steps — a right by the way, that is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. I received a tidy check about 10 years later that I used for the down payment on my first house. Ah, capitalism in all its glory.
My career as a secret agent stalled for a bit when I took time off for motherhood — nursing a baby and the dark arts don’t mix well — but by the time that baby was in high school, she was marching on the front lines with me to protest the Iraq War. Indoctrinate them early, I say.
I went to ground for a number of years, thinking my protesting days were over. But in 2016, my country called upon me, once again, to bare my arms in resistance (a la our immediate past first lady). This time, I helped organize buses to bring hundreds of comrades to the front lines of the struggle. Our pink pussy hats stretched all the way to the horizon.
Today, I live the quiet life of an armchair radical (my stenosis has been acting up). I spend my mornings writing postcards for the resistance, and my afternoons Zentangling hypnotic art (who knows what’s hiding in the patterns). I don’t know if The Man will ever catch up to me — or if I will ever catch on to myself. Regardless, I’m ready, with a Sharpie in one hand and a bottle of oat milk in the other.
Ruth Goldstein (RuthGoldstein@comcast.net) is an essayist writing from Pikesville, Md.