It’s hard to find the words for what I’ve been feeling. I’ve heard nothing but people’s feelings for the last two days to varying degrees of eloquence. I’ve also had moments of completely unsettled quiet. Like many New Yorkers, I experienced a chilling dead silent subway ride yesterday. All day I had to purposefully remind myself that to walk you put one foot in front of the other, at times had to remind myself how to breathe.
I’m thinking about the young guy on my train in jeans and sneakers and a turban who noticed the “Stronger Together” button I haven’t taken off my jacket yet. We kept catching each other’s eyes in a mutual crestfallen glance.
I’m thinking about my colleagues who were moved to hug each other in the halls, the entire office in a collective mourning, some of us intermittently fighting back tears at our desks all day. Fifty floors off the ground, we were consumed by dark grey clouds all day. Today’s gorgeous sunset almost felt perverse in comparison.
I’m thinking about how disappointed I am for all the children my family and friends have been blessed with recently. I just became godmother to my beautiful three-month old niece. I have vowed to love and protect her and help her parents raise her with virtue. It is tragic to me that she has not only lost this first opportunity to see a woman president, but that she’s lost it to someone who’s chalked up his bragging about blatant sexual assault to “locker room talk” and whose administration threatens women’s rights to their bodies.
I’m thinking about the children my mother teaches every day, children with special needs, children of color, children of immigrants. Imagine what it must be like for them to be born with the first African American president in the White House, only to wake up one morning and find his successor is a man who has openly mocked the disabled, who is endorsed by white supremacists, and who wants to build a wall around our country?
I’m thinking about my friends in the LGBTQ community who, somehow, in TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN, are still faced with people devaluing their human and civil rights on the grounds of religion or “traditionalism.” It is unbelievable to me that a person in favor of actual gay conversion therapy can take power today.
Mostly, I’m thinking about how I didn’t think. I underestimated the amount of fear and hatred there still is in this country. I watched my husband sinking into anxious despair for months and ached for him, and yet I didn’t for more than a moment believe there was a real possibility of this outcome. Now that I have been proven wrong, it’s a struggle to figure out how we move on. While I’ve always held strong social beliefs, I’ve also always had a strong distaste for politics and that’s admittedly deterred me from informing myself. I could stand for a cause but I was no activist. This has been a harsh learning experience. But I have to hang onto the hope that from this trauma will emerge some new fervor in me and others like me.
Today, though, I’m still stunned that this is our new reality. I’ll be seeking comfort in love and community. Whether it’s a hug, a text message, or that rarest glimmer of positivity on Facebook, it’s been heartening to see my friends trying to lift each other up with messages of hope, offering reminders to breathe, to allow some time to grieve, and then to mobilize. I see people around me sharing ideas for how to come together to fix this very very broken thing. When my numbness wears off, I’ll join them and figure out who I am and who I need to be today.