Thursday, November 10, 2016

They Walk Among Us

6:45 a.m.: You wake up feeling hungover, and not in a fun, "day after one too many margaritas" kind of a way. Hungover in a drained, bleary, red-eyed "something-bad-just-happened-but-you-can't-quite-remember-what-it-was" kind of a way. And then you remember why you feel like shit. OH MY GOD. THEY WALK AMONG US. Fully half of the humans in America--that's EVERY OTHER PERSON on the STREET (statistically speaking)--is TOTALLY FINE with having Donald Trump in the White House. Donald Fucking Trump, whose gold-plated, ass-grabbing shenanigans and brand-named bottled water you grew up around as the laughing stock of New York City, along with the entire, interminable administration of that sweaty, jowly blowhard Rudy Giuliani. You feel like you're in the Upside Down on Stranger Things.

8:00 a.m.: You know you're going to have to see them today, whoever they are. The fake smiling ones who you know for a fact helped put him there. It's not even about him of course. And it's definitely not about you. They had their reasons. They don't want you to die or anything. Then why do you feel sick? Why do you feel like it's a personal affront? They're not neo-Nazis, at least not that you know of. But because they're not Muslim, or gay, or Jewish, or disabled, or an immigrant, they can afford to pull the lever--directly or indirectly--for someone who has emboldened white supremacy and swastika graffiti ("protest" or otherwise) in 2016 Philadelphia and act like it's no big deal. And though some of them are women, they're not bothered, you suppose? So you cry at the drive-through coffee shack, and ask for your stupid 12 oz. almond milk latte. You look up into the eyes of a girl with a nose ring who's young enough to be named Madison. "There's a crazy person running our country," you sob helplessly, involuntarily. Madison looks at you with a poker-faced, impersonal sympathy. "Maybe it'll all work out," she says, shrugging. It's impossible to tell whose "side" she's on.

12:00 p.m.: You sit at your desk in a fog and tell yourself you're being melodramatic. You're acting like this is the end of the world for fuck's sake! But you kind of wonder if it is, or at least the beginning of the end, and then you feel stupid for wondering in hyperbole. So you compose yourself enough to send some emails and Outlook invites and organize your desk. 

1:00 p.m.: You read an article from Medium that someone shared on Facebook. It's a told-ya-so written by a smug, white millennial lambasting the Democratic Party for nominating greedy, corrupt HRC. The usual Bernie-Bro stuff. The corporate media selling lies (like I don't know that); all the sheep and the suckers eating it up in an echo chamber; only fucked-over hillbillies and millennials and Julian FuckAmericaInTheAssange--the albino second coming of code-cracking Christ for his virtuous allegiance to The Truth with a Capital "T"--know the score. Julian Assange and this millennial dude know Trump can turn microchips into human jobs, I suppose. The irony, though, is you're not even a fucking Democrat. You never were. You're registered undeclared and have been since you could vote. You've worked for four consecutive Republican governments. And you didn't actually have anything to do with who the Democrats put on the ballot. You just know the person they did couldn't beat someone who is loved by the Ku Klux Klan. And it matters for you and your family more than it does for the smug punk who wrote the article and almost everyone who shared it.

2:00 p.m.: But then you think about that article some more, because the kid is right, and you know that's what bothers you. That's why it's hitting a nerve. You want to not live in an echo chamber. It's why you don't block and you don't unfollow and you don't do any of that unless you're REALLY being called a cunt on the regular or something. But even with the "voluntary unfilter," we all act as our own filters. We hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see. Every last one of us, regardless of algorithms. Which is when you think about the ultimate and original Bernie Bro. Your dad. He said it two years ago. "She's a problem. She has problems. She has all this baggage. She's not a real progressive," he said. "I'm worried she's unelectable. Who cares why!" He implied your judgment was off because you wanted so badly for a woman to be President. You implied he was being sexist and then you feel that same sour feeling in your stomach you did then, because you know he was right, at least about you.

3:00 p.m.: The weariness of the day starts to catch up to you. A colleague, a mentor, tells you about this Mr. Rogers quote you've heard before. The one about the helpers. "Look for the helpers," she says. You know without having to ask that she's one of them. She always has been. You get into a long, sympathetic text conversation with someone who had once been a bitter opponent in acrimonious litigation. Suddenly you're on the same side in an intimate way.

5:00 p.m.: You're with your kids. "Put down your phone while I'm gone and play with the kids," your husband suggests. He has a school board meeting. "I did, and I feel a lot better." You know he's right. The constant barrage of hostile energy blasting out at you from your smart phone is stiffening your neck and hardening your heart. You put it down. You get in the bathtub and sob under water, and then tell yourself you're being melodramatic again. You play with your kids, hockey and soccer indoors and worry about breaking a window. Your daughter is playing Taylor Swift in the background "don't say I didn't, say I didn't warn you . . ."

8:00 p.m.: Now you do the one thing that has always given you the most comfort, ever since you learned how. And although you do it in a gimmicky second-person way this time, you write all of it down. And you know that along with the trolls (or at least the dismissers) who are laughing you off right now and minimizing how you feel and making fun of you and needling you, the helpers are out there reading too.

They walk among us.

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