Our neighbors

There’s the usual mountain of notes for posts on all sorts of topics piling up around me, but sidestepping this election seemed bizarre.  I was born in California and now live in Vermont (a scarcely populated state that is always the first on the map to turn blue).  My family is in the US, and most of my friends are here.  It probably won’t surprise any readers of this to hear that nearly all those people are currently stupefied by horror and despair.

It’s easy to feel apocalyptic about Trump, if you didn’t pick him.  I’ve felt apocalyptic too, but then I’ve also spent the last two days in a cancer center in NH – a state I can see from my desk, but which I felt nervous driving into yesterday for the first time ever.  I wondered if I’d see celebrations there that would break my fragile heart.  But I’d forgotten that, in a cancer center, celebrations and tragedy are marked differently.  Regardless of whether they voted or how, everyone there was dealing with their own worst fears made flesh, their own private apocalypse.  And they were reaching out to one another, with cups of ice and celebrity gossip magazines, with flyers for scarf-tying classes.  Looking around, I had no idea who these people had cheered for and for the first time, I didn’t care.  I loved anyone who was kind to my mother, who could make eye contact with her as the IV dripped poison into her veins and smile gently.

In a strange way, it made me feel more optimistic than anything I’d seen on TV or FB.  Whatever its source or target, we have all felt fear.  We all know what it is, to pilot these soft and vulnerable bodies through the world.  We don’t all know what it is like to live in fear of the police or our neighbors, but we can all reach out to someone who needs it.

(She’s doing great, by the way, and the prognosis is absurdly positive.  This post also isn’t intended to diminish any of the very real dangers to vulnerable people that this election foreshadows or the systems of racism and oppression that made his rise possible.)

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