4th of July 1982, Pioneer Village, Nebraska
I have had my feet in two worlds for large parts of my life. Growing up in a smallish town on the edge of an industrially polluted lake where my classmates were not expected nor encouraged to go to college, I was the (obnoxious) Doctors Kid. My big-city mother struggled in the suffocating small town, my father thrived in what to him was a sprawling village of opportunity. In private boarding school I was disgusted by the classmates who used their parents high-end drugs and their own teenage cruelty to ostracize me. I found friendship among the townies. But not all the townies, just the arties and gays and other misfits would have me. I found people I liked, and who liked me, and I found my own way. Along the way, I took snippets of interesting things from my urban, artistic, democratic family on the one hand, and my rural, veteran, republican family on the other. I am intensely proud of the diversity of my own background and the interesting, varied and often hilarious people who created it.
I have said often that having that dichotomy kept things balanced and gave me a buffet of characteristics to choose from to form my own identity. Work ethic + art + bookishness + community + creativity + travel + solitude + Patsy Cline= my own perfect mix.
When I left the Midwest, I promised myself that I would live in the South, Europe and the East and West Coasts. (I didn't make it to NYC, but there's still time). Every four or five years I would pick up and start over in a new place, with new social norms and new people. It enriched me. I fueled me. Each place I've lived gave me a new view of America, and I found something to love in each one.
The pain in my heart on Wednesday was fueled by the knowledge that people I know and love, people I admire and adore, voted for Trump. I know they are not all racist. They are not all cruel. They are my people too. They deserved so much better. They have been used. They can't possibly think this is ok, can they? Did I every really know them? Does their hate extend to me? And yes, a vote for Trump is a vote for hate. At best it is a vote for an erratic, foul mouthed buffoon you wouldn't invite to the American Legion fish fry, at worst it is a vote for a fear-mongering, race-baiting fascist.(I could go on about my pain as a woman, but it's all been said).
Those people are not all rural either, it's not that simple. They are not all "out there in the sticks". Just last week, on trick-or-treat night, I ran to my corner Walgreens (I live on the corner of White + Liberal) for more candy. In the recently-raided aisle, I was scrounging for the last bags of chocolate when the woman next to me said "Ran out?" I said "Yes, they came in droves!". To which she replied: "Don't get more for those Over-The-Rivers!".
Black children. That's what she meant. N word is what she meant. I scooped up every bag on the shelf and walked away. I was speechless, and in that moment felt stunned. Every kid who came up my step that night got handfuls and handfuls of candy. All night I fumed at that ignorant, mean-hearted woman. But I thought she was a one-off, an outlier. An anomaly.
The problem with Wednesday was just that -- it was day. And all the secret hate, the quiet bigotry, was out in the light.. And it was all around us. It WAS us.
I can't cover it all here, I hardly know what I'm talking about, there are more knowledgeable voices than mine already saying everything. I have always written. Of the moments in my life both mundane and profound, I have written. My diaries date back to Reagan, I have every letter Grandma ever sent me. I write because I have to, like a habit. I write about this because, because...oh, I don't even know. All I know is that, like America, I am full of contradictions. I am striving to be better, I fail often, and I want a gooder world for my loved ones.
I know one thing---we are worthy of better.