Saturday morning, I was trained as a poll watcher. It was a classic meeting of Democrats, mildly disorganized, with people passionate and loving and ready to leap down each other’s throats because we aren’t as good at organizing as the fascists are. “But when do we…?” “But who is our…?” “Do we need to bring our own scissors?” (They cut off columns of this document to tell the home office who voted. No violence intended. Smile.)
I was not only on time, I was early. So were about 40 other Lawrencians, all waiting patiently for the library to open at 9 am.
“What is going on here?” I said to the woman next to me. “I love it! People lined up to get into the library!”
“It happens here. I mean, a some of them are homeless, but….”
Well, where else should homeless people be? (I know, it’s a problem sometimes, librarians, and we should help you with that more.)
Driving off after the training, I felt like things were going to be okay. It’s been about two years since I’ve felt that way.
I spent the weekend out of town with family. I left my phone at home. This frustrated me, but ultimately saved me. Apart from needing to listen to podcasts as my bedtime stories, and not being able to wander far from family lest I become lost, it was great. Second thought: maybe not being able to wander far from family was a plus.
I enjoyed the ministrations of my nieces, who are as enthusiastic and adorable and loving as any children could be.
I went south, to a part of the country that is red, red, red. And somehow, it didn’t matter to me. I find it odd that we heard the story of Jesus three times in two days, as part of their Christmas celebration. I found it odd to jump into Christmas before Thanksgiving. (Usually I don’t approve of that, but it’s easier to travel before it gets snowy or icy.)
On a memorable trip down south, about eight years ago, I was in the midst of having a nervous breakdown. I had headaches that wouldn’t go away, then panic attacks and anxiety such that I was afraid to leave the house. I remember watching a stage show, and thinking, “All of these people will be dead someday.” Which was true, but is not my normal way of thinking when I am on vacation. Within a year, after a lot of doctor visits and medication and some therapy, I was much, much better.
It’s been too dark, and nothing was worth this, all this fear we’ve been swimming in, having to breathe in this white supremacist, immigrant-demonizing time. It could end.
The way I’ve been thinking lately is that we have to go in a new way. When DT was first elected, much of my thinking was focused on how to return the United States to a place where people felt safe. That’s not enough, now, even if it were possible.
I want to look forward to how we can make things better than they were under Obama, still look forward to making college cheap or free, everyone having okay health care, rather than some people protecting theirs, setting limits on how people buy and use and store guns, celebrating immigration and finding ways to welcome new people to our country, lavishing our people with mental health support and opportunities, to combat racism and -isms of all kinds, and protecting and celebrating our journalists in a nonpartisan way (which doesn’t mean “lacking in values”). Those are my priorities, anyway.
We have plenty. We have all we need. And now we know how strong we are, having gotten up every day during the last hellacious two years and going on, even on the day I pondered how I could protect my fellow Americans on the subway, the days I felt DT’s aggressive and dismissive treatment of women in my body, the day I ached for my student, a Dreamer, who cried and cried during our tutoring session.
We know we can march two years running, for women’s rights, even though many of us were born in times we thought we’d never have to defend women. We can show up for kids who are scared of gun violence. We can breathe through a presidency that attacks what we value day after day after day, and still make each other dinner and love people who aren’t like us, and change diapers and give money and make signs and set aside our worry about rent to give a dollar to a homeless dude.
We can start over, and start over again. No matter what happens in the election, we will start over, because we create our world, it doesn’t create us. Pat yourself on the back for everything you’ve done. Good, fucking, job! I know you already voted and probably did a lot more. I love everyone who has worked so hard to stay sane, and to help others stay sane. Thank you, and I’ll see you on the other side.
Image: detail from “Leaf from a Beatus Manuscript, at the Clarion of the Fifth Angel’s Trumpet, a Star Falls from the Sky; the Bottomless Pit is Opened with a Key; Emerging from the Smoke, Locusts Come Upon the Earth and Torment the Deathless.” Public domain.