Stickers of Mine

Okay, one of my favorite things is bumper stickers.

I have three Nalgenes (shut-up, I’m from Colorado so we gotta stay hydrated 7,000 ft above sea-level) and each are decked out in stickers.

So much so, I actually have themed Nalgenes. One is strictly travel related, most of which I got while studying abroad in London my junior year (Switzerland, Scotland, Italy to name a few). Another is fandoms and shows/books stuff I love. Like I’ve got one that says “Page 394” for the Potter Heads out there, and another that’s Weiss Schnee’s snowflake insignia…for my anime junkies.

My third, and possibly favorite Nalgene (shh don’t tell the other two) is of a dark emerald green. It’s the one I’ve had the longest and it is SMOTHERED in stickers. This one didn’t have a theme at first. Seeing as it was the original, I slapped every sticker I got on that sucker. I guess you could say it was kinda my shitpost Nalgene.

Currently (and completely by accident) it’s running on a rather feminist theme. I’ve got a Power Puff Girl’s sticker with the iconic big pink heart and bold black letters stating “GRL PWR.” Another has Cher from “Clueless” with her oh-so-quotable catchphrase, “As if!” And then of course there’s “National Park Geek” which I think speaks for itself.

If you thought my love for stickers remained only on water bottles–I hate to disappoint you, but they’ve also snuck their way onto my car.

Now these I liken to what I imagine having a bunch of tattoos or a lot of children is like–some are super meaningful and bring you joy and then some…make you question what on Earth you were thinking.

When I outgrow my appreciation of a sticker on my Nalgene, it’s pretty easy to cover up with–you guessed it–a new sticker. This is not the case with the back windshield of a car.

The increased surface area means more delicate and careful placement of the stickers. Unless of course you plan never to sell the car, in which case I suppose it doesn’t really matter what kind of hot mess collage you create back there.

What I mean to say is some stickers do not age well. They were deemed cool by your fifteen-year-old self and now at 22, they just don’t look as cool anymore.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t agree with a lot of the decisions 15-year-old me made. I wore black eyeliner everyday underneath both my upper and lower lids. Freaking insane.

Those few stickers that I’ve had forever, kind of haunt me and I wish I could painlessly remove them.

One, I’d say is a modern marvel. It’s this green sticker in the shape of Montana and it says “Get lost (in Montana)” Pretty cute, and I must say is a rather clever tourism campaign. What’s so amazing about that sticker is how well it has held up. It looks as good as the day my dad gave it to me. I don’t know what kind of adhesive they use in Montana, but clearly they’ve figured something out the execs at Post-It will want to know about.

Okay, so the Montana sticker I don’t really regret.

I have one that states (in bright red too) “I read banned books.” But I must admit, the only banned books I’ve read are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Communist Manifesto. Even then, Huckleberry Finn is only restricted in certain school districts in certain states (who shall remain nameless) and I’m not entirely sure if the Marx’s book is in fact “banned.” I mean, it’s about communism so as an American I feel an inherent need to recoil at it…but because of that pesky 1st Amendment, I don’t think either book qualifies as really “banned.”

My naive side believes that because freedom of speech is so strong, book banning isn’t a thing in these United States. Yet, any good political theorist would tell you that there are limits to our universal freedoms. Because of that, my cynical side does suspect somewhere in some federal vault, there’s a list of publications not to be reprinted or sold in the U.S.

So yeah.

I don’t actually read banned books. It’s a sticker of lies. But it makes me sound like a badass, which is why I picked it. And why I regret it.

At last we have come to the piece de resistance. The one sticker on my car (and across all my three Nalgenes) that is by far the largest, most controversial, and in the most unfortunate of locations–my “COEXIST” bumper sticker.

You’ve probably seen one of these before. They’re pretty popular, especially in Portland. If you haven’t, each letter in the word is made out of varying group’s symbols or insignias. Like the “x” is the Jewish star of David, the “c” is the crescent moon and star from Turkey’s flag, the “s” is yin and yang, and the “e” has both the Roman character for Mars (male) and Venus (female)–representing equality within the gender spectrum.

The reason why I got this sticker isn’t as noble as you might think. Keep in mind, I was fifteen. The reason why I have a “coexist” sticker at all was because I used it as a bargaining chip with my dad.

You see, I had this other sticker that I thought was really funny and I wanted to put on my new car. It said, “I hate the bands you like” and had guitar with a lightning bolt.

You should know, my father is a very gentle and kind man—essentially a pacifist. He taught us that our first defense should always be seeking peace. Though some people may call you a coward, true peace-seeking comes from a place of strength, vulnerability, and courage.

For these reasons he didn’t like that the sticker said “hate.”

Again, I was fifteen, he was soo the boss of me and the car was registered in his name. I didn’t have much of a rebuttal. I did have compromise, which is in fact a peace-keeping tactic. I suggested that to nullify the “I hate the bands you like,” I also get a, you guessed it, “coexist” sticker. He agreed to that.

For some unknown reason I then dutifully placed the sticker on the bumper itself. All the others I put on the rear window, but that one? It went directly onto the paint. Forever ingrained into the car’s identity. If I ever sell this car, there will always be a long rectangle marking where “coexist” once was.

Like I said, this sticker is my most controversial. People have given me so much shit for this one. Which I find exceedingly ironic. The “peaceful” sticker causing the most issue and annoyance.

I guess choosing “coexist” or its twin “tolerance” signifies I have certain political views or some sort of stance against the war/soldiers. Honestly, I don’t know what about it sets people off so much (dear readers, do you?). None of those who’s mocked, sighed, or rolled their eyes because of it has explained why it bugs them.

The word coexist simply means existing in mutual tolerance. It’s not saying you need to follow this particular way of thinking or ideology. You don’t have to agree with it. You don’t have to accept it, believe it, or preach it. You just have to respect it and let it exist beside you with no protest. Coexist is requesting that you live beside others in harmonious, collective freedom.

If they have an issue with this concept, then I’m sorry, they need to chill out and examine those documents and philosophies our country was founded on.

On a personal note, I feel like “coexist” is asking for the bare minimum. I think a person who immerses themselves in other cultures, subcultures, religions, perceptions or whatever are far richer than those who don’t.

Again. I don’t have to agree with it, but I can at least take the time to listen, understand, learn, empathize, and accept that their perception is valid, is true, and is as much a part of the human experience as my own culture, religion, perceptions and whatever. To me that’s the ideal and it’s more than coexisting. It’s creating a vibrant, diverse community.

One more thing…

I DIDN’T GET THE STICKER FOR MY FUCKING POLITICAL AGENDA!

Of course, now I totally use it as a platform for my fucking political agenda. Sometimes I regret having it because I just don’t want to hear for the thousandth time why someone else has a problem with it. It certainly would be easier to exist (ba dum tss) without it.

Still…once I explain the story behind “coexist” and how I interpret it, it does create good conversation and debate. Which is something desperately lacking in our society (just ask any member of Congress from the last 20 years).

Plus, now I can park next to those cars with “Exist” made entirely out of guns–just to piss them off. Yeah, yeah, I know that totally defeats the purpose of my long rant about coexistence and yada yada. I never said I was perfect. 😉

Anyway, I bet you didn’t think this post would end up out here in the boonies of war and peace. I guess I wanted to share with you a little tidbit of my personality–in the shape of those fun stickers of mine.

Thanks for sticking with me.

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