If we were sharing a quiet dinner in a neighborhood restaurant, I’d lean forward at some point, speaking in a lowered voice so our conversation didn’t carry. “Are you as scared as I am?” I’d ask.
You might rest your hand on mine, a reassuring gesture. But if you’re someone with a penchant for upheaval, you might brush aside my concerns with a dismissive wave. “We needed someone to shake things up!” you’d say, and even though we might disagree about that underlying premise, we’d find a way to navigate our differences. As friends do. And at the end of the night, we’d hug it out, energized as always by a shared commitment to the greater good.
But virtual meet-ups are different, aren’t they? We can’t read facial expressions. We can’t hear the subtle changes in pitch and tone, and we miss the subtle pauses. We can’t meet each other’s eyes, and we can’t translate what we don’t see.
I’m going to trust you, though, to push past those limitations. As friends do. I’m not expecting you to compromise your own views, but at this virtual dinner, please allow me this moment of grace.
You’d probably notice my furrowed brow, were we to sit across the table from one another. “What’s on your mind,” you might reasonably ask, and while I’d probably start by talking about seals and such, I’d eventually wade into rougher waters.
What’s on my mind? Lemme tell you… I’m deeply concerned about the direction our country is headed. I am mourning the fact that we’ve lost our way, and I’m frightened about the cold, dark place in which we’ve found ourselves this weekend. I hear the drumbeats of war, drawing ever closer. White supremacists roam our streets unmasked–emboldened by a president who refuses to condemn their actions and instead offers a statement against “violence on all sides.” Politicians refuse to step into the breach, and religious leaders are strangely silent. I’m as scared as I’ve ever been, and oh, how I wish Hillary Clinton had shattered that highest, hardest glass ceiling!
This isn’t a fresh concern, mind you. I’ve been troubled by this presidency since Day One.
I worked for the Hillary Clinton campaign for a reason. She represents my deepest hopes and highest ideals. Plus, she’s smart and sassy, and better-equipped, by far. Not without her faults, but who is? She’s as imperfectly perfect as they come. Like many Americans, I was elated about her winning the popular vote, but when she ultimately lost the electoral college to a huckster, that elation quickly turned to despair.
No surprise, when I read the prompt for Susanne Conway’s photography challenge, those emotions bubbled to the surface again.
God forgive me for not thinking of my grandkids first, but this is the first image that came to mind.
My friend and I spent countless hours supporting the Hillary Clinton campaign. How exciting, to be on location for this event! We were joined by countless Americans, gathered around their television sets (or and hunched over their electronic devices), fully expecting that we’d be celebrating a big win. But there was a deep rumbling that night, and a shaking. Our dreams were crushed by the weight of unseen forces.
We walked back to the hotel together in silence, blanketed by wooly clouds that offered little in the way of comfort. I zipped my coat against the cold, wrapped my scarf a little tighter. An outsized rat skittered across the sidewalk, baring needle-sharp teeth as it defended its right to the trash bags heaped at the curb. The Empire State Building–alternating floors glowing blue and red before the polls closed—was awash in angry red.
That was then, and this is now. I’m not dwelling on that night, but I’m mindful of its significance. I’d be hard-pressed to explain how much our country has shifted, folded in on itself, and slid backward. And tonight…well, I’m glad tonight for the warmth and glow of your friendship, because my typically optimistic outlook is a bit faded around the edges.
Everything looks brighter in the morning–that’s what my Nana always said. But if we were to linger over coffee tonight, we’d probably explore this at some length. We’d laugh; we’d cry. I’d give you side-eye and you’d tell me to hush. We’d eventually fall into a comfortable silence, but not before I asked you to share your One Wish with me. As friends do. Then we’d ask the waiter to bring us a gooey, guilt-free slice of cake. With extra forks, please, and glow-in-the-dark candles.