Since November 9, 2016:
- I’ve been to the gym. I know this sound like a trivial detail, but having not gone persistently for months on end, the requirement to have a strong body, coupled with the clarity and surge of energy and endorphins that the gym provides, is now more necessary than ever.
- I keep writing. I keep putting down words of frustration, of sadness, of confusion onto pages and papers as an attempt to make sense of it all.
- I keep going to work. Not only do I need to just pay my bills, but I also need the distraction. Sitting here, quietly, staring at whatever is in front of me, only leads to more jaw-clenching and rage. The act of getting out on the road, and driving around Portland, Oregon allows me to interact with others, even on the most basic of levels, and reminds me that I’m not alone.
- I keep reminding Ray that I love him, more than ever. We’ve drawn quite close over the past few weeks since November 9th, and I feel more connected to him than I ever have. We both have had to face down some real truths about where we came from, and what has been holding us back. Now, in this current political upheaval, we have each other, and not a whole lot more.
- I keep looking for things to do, meetings to attend, groups to join, so that I don’t just sit here and idle my way through this mess.
There’s a direct and sincere feeling of having to come to terms with the life I have been leading. I have actively bought into the New Liberalism that has marked the last few decades here in America. I have sought the refuge of ever-more liberal cities in order to find a space to exist with limited fears, even when the act of doing so cost the connections I once had to my very-blue-collar past. I have bought into the idea of higher education as a means to overcoming social injustices. I have fed into the very machine that voters from places I’ve always been afraid of (middle America, “fly-over,” redneck, etc) have denounced and ridiculed, and now claim victory over. I gave over my rural identity and politics the day I decided to come out of the closet, it seems. I allowed myself to succumb to the audacity and optimism of living in and among a class of liberal urbanites who never expressed any connection to the world beyond their cities (other than to liken trips to the rural spaces as something akin to safari, or a trip to the zoo), all under the banner of being able to safely exist as my true self. I’m not sure about these choices anymore.
Today, I’m finding myself questioning this move, and why I didn’t have the strength to be who I am while retaining my rural roots and connections. What kind of impact could I have made if I had simply gone back home after college? Is this regret? Is this me internalizing a lot of doubts I now am holding about the country I live in? I’m not certain. I do know this, though – I moved away at the time because of fear. I chose not to live among those who held deep-seated hatred and bigotry against me, who I was and am, and those like me. For many like me, I’m pretty certain this is a similar refrain.
I’m also now, more than I have ever been, questioning the words and language used by those of us who live in these urban/liberal-elite spaces. How have we glossed over, or even promulgated, the challenges of race and racism, along with bigotry and xenophobia, by not actively engaging in the methods and actions needed to come to terms with these problems? Simply put, I don’t know what to trust any longer, internally or externally. I need to figure this out.