This is how I’ve been feeling lately. Not happy, you understand, but not unhappy either. My life right now is the equivalent of a month-long cold. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that I’ve literally had a month-long cold. I have become a constant sniffler, a man obsessed with tissues, a wispy whiner with a surprisingly deep and butch cough.
But this isn’t a hazy numbness. It’s a presence and I think there’s a callous forming, too. While my joints ache and my eyes water, my personal walls are actively growing taller. They are being reinforced and topped with broken glass. I can feel it happening. Just like the wall Trump is building, I am paying for them myself. There are only a few entryways left in these walls. I am eyeing them and fingering the keys.
I had a nightmare last night that I had overlooked a door in my hall and that I share my kitchen with a neighbor. It frightened me badly enough to wake me up and propel me out of bed at 6:30 in the morning on my day off. The night before, I had a nightmare about not being served at a local restaurant because I’m gay. That time I got up at 4:30, after three hours of sleep, and just started my day. I made a burger for breakfast. I talked to my cabinets.
Look, I am aware that this political moment will pass. Everything does. But there’s going to be a lot of bullshit before it does and seeing the enormity of that stretched out in front of me is hardly ennobling. Four years of grief and shame aren’t alleviated by a political turnaround. The fact that we’ve sunk so low and elected such a monstrous, vapid, selfish person to the presidency is not something I can forget. The loved ones who voted for him will always be marked as Trump Voters in my brain. It’s so sad I can hardly bear it.
I know about bearing things, about pushing worries down and clenching my fists and planning for a future that may or may not ever exist. I bet you do too, even if you didn’t grow up gay and closeted and afraid. We know numbness.
I hear the liberal left calling for a continued fire in my breast. I believe it will come back – February is always the hardest month of the year for me. Even though it’s warm outside here in Texas, there’s a little chill in my pocket. Maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day is the most fake-ass tacky holiday of all. Probably not.
I hear the liberal podcasters trumpeting the small, small wins that the marches, rebellions and resistance have achieved. I am proud of my friends who are fighting. And I do believe that things will eventually improve. But there’s a lot of damage ahead of us still. Not only is the Orange Menace president, but his cabinet and his appointees are by turns ignorant, malicious and greedy. Not only will Trump get to appoint an appropriately hateful Supreme Court Justice, but Republicans have all the power in Congress.
Not only is the current regime prone to xenophobia, fear-mongering, shady backdoor dealings and stark, pure lies, but they’re here because Americans elected them. People I love voted for him. Talking through it doesn’t change it. It’s the moral equivalent of your parent coming out of the bathroom and the smell of their shit hitting you in the face. Except this was a shit they could have chosen not to take.
I guess what I’m trying to communicate via convoluted scatological metaphors is that, just when I thought I didn’t have any innocence left to lose, a little bit more flaked away. I don’t think the person being revealed is bad or ugly, but he’s certainly sadder. That outer coat sure was smooth and pretty and I’m going to miss it.
To end on a more optimistic note: all the money I’ve donated is still working for me, for Muslims, for women, for refugees, for immigrants, for LGBTQ people and for anyone imperiled by Trump’s towering idiocy and cruelty. I might not be feeling strong right now, but I don’t necessarily have to be – cash can do some of the heavy lifting. Plus, I got cute little cards from Environment Texas, from ACLU and from Planned Parenthood. I don’t know what I’m expected to do with these little cards, really. No point in carrying them around unless they begin leaping out of my wallet and enticing cute boys. But I like them. I guess those little membership cards are a concrete reminder that, even if I feel completely stuck and sad, something is happening somewhere.
I also, by the way, just downloaded Stash, an app that allows me to invest very small amounts of money from each paycheck in equality, green energy and…robots. That last one is less an ethical investment and more just a shrewd one. I can count eight tech gadgets from where I am sitting in my living room. I do not believe that any of these machines have developed a consciousness, but if they rise up, I hope they’ll remember that I invested in them.
Anyway, this blog post now sounds like a poetic advertisement for Stash. They are not a sponsor. I wish they were – such a great app. I’m just trying to say that, if you’re feeling numb right now and temporarily don’t feel up to standing on the front lines, consider focusing on living your best little life, making 5 AM breakfast burgers and using some of the resulting money you’ve saved to invest in hope for the future.
And if you too find yourself building up your personal barricades and laboriously closing all your gates, please remember where you left the keys. I think we’ll need them someday.