Upon waking the morning after the election, I dressed myself in black. Head to toe, underwear to shawl.
I was grieving. I was mourning. I was despairing.
I thought: Never in my lifetime will a woman be president.
I thought: I live in a country in which the loudest, meanest barnyard brute gets to win.
I thought: Half of my country hates Barack Obama, a leader I respect. An astute leader without a hint of scandal. No Twitter rants. Yet President Obama must endure references to primates even from elected officials. His integrity, his very birth has been impugned by now President-elect Trump, a man intent on destroying everything Obama built.
I thought: Half of my country judges a man by the color of his skin rather than by the content of his character.
I thought: My country is divided in half.
I know about divided countries. I came of age during the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Half the country favored the war in Vietnam; half opposed it. The second half sought to avoid fighting in it despite the draft.
I drove a refurbished 1966 Volkswagon bug. On its back window sat a peace symbol in variegated jewel colors. There was a pro-war elder in my community named Abe Atwood (funny that a few years later I would marry and, after much discussion, decide to take that name). My dad facetiously referred to this man as “Honest Abe.”
Honest Abe looked at the peace sign and pronounced it “the sign of the American chicken.”
History has proved the waste of that war in Vietnam–thousands on both sides killed or maimed. An ignominious defeat. Our Agent Orange poisoned rain forests, caused cancer, and wreaked havoc on the Vietnamese people’s DNA resulting in generations of horrific birth defects. Oh, and that whole Domino Effect thing, the purported purpose of our little venture, was fiction.
We healed. The generation that never trusted anyone over thirty celebrated their thirty-year-old birthdays. The people of the 60’s and 70’s became sixty and seventy.
And now we are divided again. Half of us are mourning and half of us are celebrating the election of Donald Trump. I still feel a twist in my gut when I think of Hillary Clinton and her years of service and what I saw as the hope she had to offer, gone. I am sad for her. I am afraid of a man who will spew vitriol to suit his whims, and I am afraid of a country that willingly absorbs vitriol.
The morning after the election I wandered, stunned, dressed in black, into a grocery store. Another black-clad woman said to me, “What happened?” A third joined. We stood there, three women dressed in mourning. Right there in the salad aisle we discussed the merits of the west coast seceding from the Union.
The following morning, I tuned in to watch Gayle King and Norah O’Donnel. They were attired in bold blue dresses. Democrat blue. The men at the table wore blue ties of the same shade. I thought: That’s one thing. So, today I dressed in blue as well. It’s one thing.
One day this country will heal again. To speed us on that path, author Chuck Wendig says we need to mourn, then get mad, then get busy. He proposes a list of more things you can do. I don’t know all my plans yet, but so far, I have signed a petition to abolish the Electoral College, and we have subscribed to an actual newspaper.
Also, I think I will wear a lot of blue.