Trying hard to be more.
I forgot how good it feels to run outside.
Across the city, in perfect shorts-and-t-shirt weather. To hopscotch around ambling pedestrians, to find quick footing after stumbling curbs. Through bursting lights and Friday-night crowds and a lavender sunset. Up mile-long hills and down five-dozen shallow steps.
Running outside means drinking crisp air, trusting my body, dancing with traffic, becoming the moment around me. It’s forgetting to count miles, forgetting to count steps and breath, forgetting to do anything except exist. It’s an inexplicable pause; I leave home with the heaviest heart, the loudest mind, and without acknowledging any of the facts or worries or hypotheticals, I return with an unwavering answer, with certainty, with quiet. Every time.
Worn sneakers on cracked sidewalks is a lifetime removed from the detached, mechanical repetition of five-thousand steps in the exact same place, from glazed-over eyes begging the digital screen to step outside the construct of time and count minutes and miles faster. It’s a different plane, another dimension, some basal sliver tucked away from a hundred evolutions ago.
And so, in my footfalls, in my miles, in my aching joints and in my soft gaze and in my gulping lungs, I let go of some things.
I haven’t had words for months.
I’m afraid, deeply. For what others stand to lose. For the thought of families torn apart by deportation, individuals sent away from a life, a home, their dreams. I’m afraid of the global risks — of climate change, ignorance of absolute scientific fact, nuclear warfare. I’m afraid of losing 40, 50 years of advancement. I’m afraid when I watch decades of carefully balanced international relations ripped apart in a ten-minute phone call. I’m afraid when we talk about keeping people out, about requiring individuals to join a religious-based registry. I’m afraid of civil unrest — how are we here? I’m afraid of what happens to those without power, those without wealth. I’m afraid for the next generation, and the one after that. I’m afraid for our country, for the spirit of America, the reason this country exists. We’re hemorrhaging in ways I’m afraid maybe no tourniquet can slow.
This is not the world I want to live in. This is not my home.
I’m also proud and glad and grateful. I’m surrounded by so many bold, beautiful, brilliant, passionate humans, whose spirits are resilient in the moments I feel overwhelmed with despair. But I am not like them. Not now. Not yet.
The night of the election, I left a watch party around 9:30. There was little question by then of what was happening. I paced my apartment in the dark for hours, clutching a glass of whiskey I topped off over and over. Anything to numb the dawning awareness that our country said yes to hate, discrimination, inequality, racism, sexism, and a hundred more shitty things that all make me want to lay down and stop trying. Months removed, I understand and accept that voting for Trump might not make one a racist, a sexist, or any of those other words…but it does mean that person said s/he was okay with letting those attributes define us, with letting someone who is the epitome of every form of hatred and self-agrandization call the shots.
So I drank whiskey and paced until I felt numb, until my head buzzed louder than the horrified talking heads on every channel. I sat on the bathroom floor talking to J on the phone until 2:00 AM; we were in shock, devastated, broken.
For a week I was silent, for a month I spoke to only a very few. I didn’t broach the election for much longer. I still…am not sure what to say when I do discuss it.
I can laugh about Trump being a fool, repost the most poignant tweets, wonder distantly on contingency plans. I’ve contemplated a passport and contraceptives and realized suddenly things like quitting my job, moving, and starting over somewhere else…is risky not because of the risk of failure but because what would I do for healthcare? I comprehend where we are and I can participate in the discussion. Each friend catch up now includes an expanded version of how the actual fuck did we get here? But it all ends the same: staring into the distance, hands draped limply across my lap, heart beating a little too fast.
I’m not full of the fire and anger and resolve that surrounds me. I am overwhelmed by the deluge of emotion and information and speculation. I am not ready to march, to shout, to demand. I’m still just sad and helpless. It’s been hard to find the people like me, who care, so much, but still aren’t quite sure how to respond. Deer in the headlights, indeed.
Words: these days, I have them. I don’t know what to do with them. I’m not sure how to help, how to mend, how to stop. But I’m here. I care. I love, so much. If you’re weary, burdened, broken, I will carry you, how ever far I can. Maybe that’s all I can do right now. But I’m here.
Every clock in my life is wrong, and I spend 80 percent of my waking hours talking to or thinking about someone who lives two hours behind me.
I never know what fucking time it is anymore.
In the bleakest moments,
my heart swells with gratitude.
I have been given so much.
I have so much
to give back.
There is not enough time in the world,
But thank God for what we’re given.
Maybe I’m ready to be near someone who
sees all my faults,
can list every shortcoming
day after day.
I’m ready to stop trying so hard
to be anything other than exactly that which
I should be so lucky to find
I have hope;
I have faith.