Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Words? Well yeah. Words.
The curtains are drawn here, and though the leaves are finally turning and blanketing the ground in color...I'm not out there right now. I'm in here. It seems like a nice day out, but it doesn't feel nice. I'm all for people following their hearts and though I've struggled with some people's political leanings more this year than any year in the past, I'm not a "if you vote X then delete me" sort.
In any case, what's done is done, and now Donald Trump will be president.
Typing that feels exactly the opposite of how typing The Cubs win the World Series feels. That last sentence was this achievement, this "everyone together winning, we're really nice guys" kind of feeling. It felt like no one person could have gotten there without the other. It felt like Chicago kinda of unified to celebrate even if you were a Sox fan. It felt like we had a week full of just happy to float around and celebrate our favorite pasttime, knowing something else was looming in the background. When I said those words, when I typed that sentence, it didn't feel real because it was reaching this goal I didn't think we could reach (or they, more appropriately) and because I was so excited they had I wondered if I'd wake up and it'd be a dream.
Typing the other sentence, the one where Trump is president....that makes me feel afraid, genuinely. That makes me feel like the people around me, even those who I know as loving *to me and generous *to me and kind...well, it makes it seem like the world I know might be a dream.
I haven't said much and I feel the weight of that on me today. I haven't said much because I haven't healed from the last time I felt so fundamentally disconnected from everyone and everything around me, or like I didn't know the people I thought I knew. And it's hard to type what I'm going to but I will anyway. I used to worry that people that I went to church with as a kid would see me having a cocktail while out in the towns we all grew up in. I worried that if I decided to vote for Barack Obama because I believed in what he stood for, and I said that to certain people, that I'd be disowned or at the very least, considered "backslidden" or that it would somehow make me completely devoid of good and God. I worried that what I was seeing in some of my past that I didn't like and trying to get away from would also take away all the people I grew up with.
Taking away the people I grew up with, especially in the early years when it was just me and my mom, no siblings or father, is pretty consequential in my world. I didn't want to lose those father figures, those that had helped my family.
I felt like I had new eyes, seeing things I hadn't seen before. Fear as a tool, compassion as a lie, and casual disregard where there should be love. Once, I talked to Pete Holmes, a comedian who grew up very similiarly to how I did, about it. The thing he said helped guide me through that storm. He said that he liked to think of religion and everything we were raised with as a room with a bunch of furniture in it. "You get to choose what you keep in it" he explained. "You could empty it completely, close the door and never come back, or you can decide what's worthwhile and needs to be held on to."
So I tried rebuilding.
That was that first time. This feels like a second. I'm afraid to figure that out again. I'm afraid to clean out another room, this time one that represents the country I know. Thing is, I didn't realize how much fear won here. I didn't realize how much misinformation reigned. I mean, I was aware things were bad, but this is like the closet you open and stuff just keeps pouring out.
In fact, I feel like there was no win/lose this time. It was all lose.
This was the worst I feared, because of open vitriol and hatred, but I think I'd have been afraid either way. I'm worried that the changes about to be wrought are going to grind things to a halt. I'm worried that my friends that I love, whether immigrants, lgbtq or not, are going to be in a bad place. I'm worried for nieces and nephews and brothers in law who have to follow the orders of someone who engages in twitter wars who now has the position to start real ones.
This has been...what....700 words on fear and disjointedness and not belonging and figuring things out?
But that picture is what I'm holding on to today. I found that at the Field Museum's Tattoo exhibit, and it really, really spoke to me. This is a tattooed woman from 1928. Every bit the 20s look, every bit the pin-curled, perfectly painted lipped beauty, but covered in courage. Her lace is permanent. I'm sure she faced unkind words, maybe alienation. Maybe she was considered undateable or too dangerous or a woman of loose morals because she looked like that. Maybe she lost friends, who didn't want to be seen with her.
But look at that smile. Look at that confidence. Look at that beauty, because it comes from a bold woman who knows that she is what and who she is, and that she isn't about to hide that or be someone else because it's what would make the least trouble. She's not staying inside or wearing long pants and long sleeves.
And that's what everyone needs to do. After we process this today, maybe stay in our jammies and wonder what the world will be like, we stop wondering and we make it full of love. I may not agree with who you voted for, but anger and hate isn't going to get us anywhere good. Instead of saying I told you so, instead of wishing for something else, I'm going to be one of those that picks up the torch and keeps working towards a better world, because the world doesn't owe me one, I owe it one.
For those afraid, I understand.
For those celebrating because they wanted something drastically different and feel they got it...well, I hope, genuinely, it turns out well for the country, though I see it very differently.
For those who feel endangered- I will stand by you. I am your friend and I love you. You are valuable. Your uniqueness and your perspectives matter.
I won't stay inside.
I won't cover up.
I won't feel afraid to write the truth no matter where it gets me.
I will be more unafraid, because that's what this moment calls for.
And I'm afraid of it, but getting past fear is the first step towards anything good, I think.