Because after watching over 2 million men and women collectively march for the safety and equality of women and other marginalized groups, and in defiance of fear-mongering, racist, misogynistic, reckless, fact-less rhetoric, I also saw women post long and bitter diatribes telling us we should’ve voted* if we were so upset.
It’s a new day, and while we’re all still living under a ceiling of grief and mourning and fear and disappointment, there’s also a sense of planning and resolve, of quiet organization. We’re like shaken up coke bottles with the lids still on.
Donald Trump was democratically selected as President-elect of the United States at around 3am this morning.
I woke up around 5 and now feel anchored to nowhere. I no longer belong to any place, certainly not this place. I have come un-moored from my national identity, because I do not identify with this. I do not recognize us. I am horrified. And terrified. And ashamed. And nearly mute with rage.
Despite all my best intentions to refill my dad’s brief life with air by writing about it, I think all I may have done is reduce it, instead.
As Zadie Smith once said, writing about someone you love can be a reductive thing. Violent even, subtracting all the things you can’t seem to remember, leaving only a small sum of what you can. A simplified equation. A two-dimensional rendering of something you desperately want to be whole again.
Forty-nine years crammed into a tiny memory of making root beer floats in the kitchen.
Today I tried “put his picture in a frame on your desk at work” on for size. Tried on for size this token of a normal relationship.
So far it feels hollow, cave-like.
I can look at the two of us in the picture and notice the tense arch in my back. I’m slightly pulled away, pushed back, safe distance, while he tries to wrap his arm around my waist and pull in. I resist the control of it like a flood. I’m a child, he’s a grandparent clawing at my cheeks for kisses.
There’s happiness too, though.
“See?” I’m saying. “I’m here with you and we’ve documented this day of shopping and snapping silly pictures in mall dressing rooms. And isn’t this a kind of love?”
He’s wearing a skull cap with the tag still on it and a flannel shirt I’ve picked out. I’ve hand-crafted this version of him. The resulting picture, kid’s macaroni art on a refrigerator, a wall.
“See?” he’s saying. “I can be exactly who you want. I can be anything. That’s love, too.”
Maybe it doesn’t seem like love on the surface. The arch and the art of a black and white dressing room photo. But it kind of is. There’s love in the trying, in the hoping.
Still. My cheeks are tight. My teeth are clenched in my mouth.
And I guess I’m still trying to figure out what kind of love that is. Even now.
Everywhere we go, we’re assessed, documented, judged, and noticed. Even in the most mundane things — taking a trip to the grocery store, leafing through a book at a book store, waiting to cross the street, going through security at the airport, sitting in the doctor’s office, ordering a coffee — we’re rarely granted the luxury of anonymity. We are relentlessly seen — not just by men, by everyone.
And being aware of, and then responding to that visibility is absolutely exhausting.
The High Museum is one of those must-visit places in Atlanta. The city has so many great little art galleries to offer, and a killer burgeoning art scene, but for those big, have-to-see exhibits, residents and visitors head to the High.
My apartment, conversely, is slightly less of a must-see place close to the city that my beautiful friends flock to when we we’ve all had too much work, too much stress, too much everything, and need a girl’s day, complete with doughnuts and mimosas.
That’s why last week, my favorite ladies trekked over to my part of town to load up on champagne and OJ vital nutrients before heading downtown for an afternoon with Iris Van Herpen and her breathtaking Transforming Fashion exhibit at the High.