"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Our New Reality

The unthinkable actually happened.

First North Carolina fell and then Florida. I burst into tears and ran to the room in which all three of my children slept. I stood in that room and sobbed silent, heaving sobs.

I went to bed, scared and shivering, but grasping desperately onto the last shred of hope I had left. This wasn't over.

I finally fell asleep after lying in bed for several hours, willing myself not to look at my phone, which I had uncharacteristically brought upstairs with me.

At four, I awoke with a jolt. I quietly reached over my four-year old, who had crawled into our bed while I slept, and found my phone on the bedside table. I opened, first, CNN. The headline took my breath away: President Trump.

I gasped, literally clutching my chest, and reached down to touch my daughter, sleeping beside me. We have failed you.

My tears made it hard for me to read, but I opened Facebook anyway. Status after status of my friends and neighbors: What happened? Is this an alternate universe? FUCK THIS. #imSTILLwithher

I added my own:

For my medically complex son, I weep.
For my gender nonconforming son, I weep.
For my daughter, I weep.

But my broken heart still chooses Love. Kindness. Respect. Decency. Freedom. Hope that our Future will do better. Be better.

Oh, America. What have you done?

***

I put away my phone, snuggled up to my daughter, and cried. There would be no more sleep.

By the time I arrived at my brother's juice bar for work that morning, I was wrecked.

I entered the restaurant and hugged my coworkers. My "What. The. Fuck." echoed through the emptiness. We cried. We shook our heads.

And then, we got to work.

We cleaned and stocked and prepped and readied and then, sure enough, the customers started to come. I was surprised, at first. "Who the hell wants a smoothie on a goddamn day like today?" But I understood as I watched them throughout the morning. As a hippie juice bar and raw foods kitchen on a blue island (surrounded by a red lake) in a newly-blue state, we were a haven. Customers came in all wearing the same wasted, broken look on their faces. They hugged each other. The mood was somber, as Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner played over the speakers.

But there was normalcy, too. Life, it seemed, would go on.

I was sorting bottles, my eyes, at last completely dry, when a regular came to where I was standing at the end of the bar. As he waited for his order, he looked at me. "How're you doing?"

I had stopped saying "fine" as my default response. "This is hard," I said instead.

"My daughter was sobbing this morning as I left..." he started. We all want to share our stories. Our "Where Were You When" moments. Those moments are seared in our brains...the apexes between the before and the after, the turning point after which life, as we had known it, would never be the same.

We talked for a few minutes about our fears...legitimized discrimination against religious and ethnic groups and the LGBT community...a repeal of the health care system that both of our families depend on...our environment...our national economy...international instability...the list went on....but it kept circling back to the word that defined his campaign: Hate.

Finally, he said, "I'm going to tell you the same thing I told my daughter. Now, I've lived on this earth longer than you. I'm not saying I've been through more than you have, because we all have our own stories, but I have aged more than you. I have watched people around me deal or not deal with changes as they have happened and there's one thing that will age you faster and more negatively than anything else."

"Worry?" I guessed. "Anxiety?" Because I certainly felt about ten years older and more tired than I had the day before.

"The inability to adapt to change."

I furrowed my brow. Adapt? To this CHANGE?! I will never ADAPT TO HATE.

He could see where my mind was going so he quickly added: "You don't have to agree with the change, but you need to adapt to it. Accept it. Work with it. USE it."

I think he's right. I'm never going to accept hate. I'm never going to respect the platform on which this president-elect won this election.

But nearly half of my country does.

So I will work with that.

I will work. I will fight.

I will adapt. To this "change."

I will not just sit and cry and hope for a better tomorrow...because that's not adapting, that's remaining stagnant while the world around me changes.

I have joined a group of women in my community who are ready to Work. We are meeting next week and I'm ready. I have never been an activist before, but I'm a fast learner and I'm highly motivated. My kids will see me stand up for what is Right: Freedom. Kindness. Compassion. Inclusion. Acceptance. Love.

I will accept that Donald Trump is my president, but I will not tolerate Hate.

Lesson Learned:

Change will be slow and difficult...but it will be worth it. Be Brave, New World. It's time to act.

6 comments :

  1. Thanks for the reminder that we must channel these emotions in constructive ways.

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  2. The media conditioned you to think that Trump represents hate. The first step you may want to take is to begin thinking for yourself.

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    1. I'm willing to be surprised that his presidency will be different from his campaign, but it's not the media conditioning us to think that Trump represents hate: it's Trump himself.

      He mocked a disabled guy for being disabled. He called for "a complete shut-down on Muslims entering the country." He spoke about building a wall to keep out Mexicans, whom he classed as rapists and drug-dealers. He said he was willing to commit war crimes and torture. He bragged about sexually assaulting women. Unless "the media" set up an animatronic proxy and made it say these things, that was your next president who said them. And that is why people think he represents hate.

      From my side of the Atlantic, I worry, but I am somewhat removed from the effects a Trump presidency will have. I worry for my American friends, and I can completely understand why they fear for the immediate future.

      The immediate effect of the EU referendum here was to embolden racists and bigots. There has been a sudden huge increase in the number of incidents on the streets, Polish families have had hatemail pushed through their doors. The hatred and bigotry was there before, of course, but the change in climate means that people with those attitudes now feel that it is OK to express them in public. Early indications suggest that is happening in the USA too now.

      I think that Sarah is quite capable of reaching her own conclusions based on the available information. To suggest that she is not thinking for herself is, purely and simply, insulting.

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    2. Well, I was going to respond myself but it seems Ethel said it just right. Thanks, Ethel! Anonymous, if you'd like to insult my ability to form my own opinions, you could at least have the decency to come out from under your cloak of anonymity.

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  3. Your family is in our prayers. Over here, we have the Equality Act 2010, which guarantees fair treatment for disabled people, LGBT people, pregnant people, brown people and so on, so that is a good thing. It is illegal to fire someone from a job, or to refuse to hire them, or to throw them out of their house because they are gay, trans, black, Swedish, disabled or pregnant. That is good, although not everyone is happy about it.

    Our National Health Service is under grave threat from the current government who want to distance themselves from the short-term cost of running a system that is free at the point of delivery (it's not free, of course, it comes out of our taxes, but it's worth it). If it fails, everyone I know will be directly worse off.

    These are worrying times indeed but, as you say, there can be positives from it. I, too, was never much of an activist, but now I'm finding myself making a much louder noise than I used to. Standing up and fighting for people, as Pope Francis said, at the margins of society. People who have nobody to shout for them, or people who have been shouting for decades but nobody has bothered to listen.

    United, we stand.

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    1. Thank you. I find that I'm finished with just repeating "what is happening in this world?!" and am ready to move. I will start small and local...but all good change has to start somewhere. I will put my money where my mouth is and donate to the ACLU. I will volunteer with our local refugee support organization. I will be loud with my opinions defending the rights of my LGBT family members to wed and to enjoy the same benefits Sam and I have. I will teach my kids that nothing is more important than Kindness and that Words Matter. I will not allow fear to keep me quiet. Thank you for your support, EtF. You have ours as well.

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