The wind off the water tonight is whipping around the house, shaking the leaves from the trees, scattering the mums on the front porch. Inside, it’s warm. I have candles burning on the mantle. Every night this week, I’ve lit candles.
It’s been difficult to show up to the page. Parenting alone has been draining, and I was so grateful when Chris walked through the door tonight. He’d left at 4:00 a.m., the morning after the election, just as everything had spun into the surreal.
I’ve been reeling. The country is reeling. The best action I was able to take this week was to bear witness to friends sharing their personal stories, and then compose thoughtful responses. I see you. I hear you. I stand with you.
Why wasn’t I this vocal before the election? Why didn’t I canvass or make phone calls for Hillary Clinton? Why did I think that merely voting was enough? I was naive. I thought this was an easy win. I believed love would trump hate. No way could more than a handful of the population actually vote for a self-professed sexual predator, a ranting lunatic who ran a campaign void of substance and full of hate. No way could our cultural misogyny run so deep.
My writer-friend Rachel didn’t underestimate Clinton’s opponent nor his supporters. She made phone calls from New York, canvassed in Pennsylvania. She wrote this letter to millennial voters at Dartmouth, her alma mater, imploring them to be rebels and vote mainstream. I didn’t see the letter until after the election, and it feels even more profound now.
The next president will elect up to four justices. They will shape the country for decades to come. They will decide whether we move toward equality or descend further into the hands of angry, white supremacists. They decide whether we adopt common-sense gun laws, or stay paralyzed with fear about the next mass shooting while doing nothing to stop it. They decide whether we continue to uphold healthcare as a basic human right, or whether we believe it is a privilege reserved for the few. Many now forget that before Obamacare, anyone with “a pre-existing condition” — even a child born with one — could be denied health insurance.
A protest vote might give you a momentary high. But, in the end, it will only help uphold the unfair system you want so badly to change.
A protest vote is a surrender. It means you, young as you are, have already given up. It means you are forgetting the struggle and words of Martin Luther King, Jr. You are forgetting that “…we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
Yes, take Clinton to task. Press her on Wall Street regulation. Push her on criminal justice reform. March on Washington. Write letters. Call your representatives in Congress. But do not be enchanted by false promises of purity.
Think about your future. Be a rebel. Vote mainstream.
As I stumbled around in my shock and distraction this week, one thing kept pulling me back to purpose: I have twenty people coming to my house on Saturday. Old college friends and their families. I needed to finish my unfinished projects. Finally get the pictures cluttering my mantle hung on the wall. Clean. Organize. Shop. Cook.
The cooking today took hours. Sauce and lasagnas and eggplant parmigiana. I’m not Italian, but I’m a pretty good cook. I used to love to cook, in that dancing around the kitchen with music and a glass of wine sort of way. Now there’s a toddler tugging at me, wanting to stir the ricotta mixture and tear the lasagna noodles, knock the cookbook from the stool, stick her hands in the sauce. Frying the last of the eggplant tonight I thought, should I have just bought trays of food from a restaurant? Is this just me doing everything the long way, the hard way? Then I thought, no. I’m doing this because this is what I do. Because cooking for people is a form of a love. An offering. A comfort. And when is a better time for love than right now?
(Post 296 of 365)