Before the election, I turn from my mailbox to see my neighbor Ted and his dog Buster walking toward me. They look happy. “I just got a letter from Mike Bloomberg,” I say. Ted teases me about how Mike and I can’t keep our relationship secret much longer, and I fall in step with them on their slow walk home. We talk politics, about who we are voting for in the primaries, about how much we both like Elizabeth Warren. We fix the world, talk about the environment. That gets me going about banning Roundup, and we talk about how people would have to be willing to tolerate some weeds or actually pull some weeds, give up a little on the pristine. We talk about edible weeds, my fondness for dandelions and their greens. (Right now another neighbor has some nice big ones behind his trailer I am quietly harvesting.) At my gate we stop. “Well, I have to get going,” I say.
“Oh, sorry,” Ted says. “I’ll get off my soapbox.”
“No,” I say. “It’s always a pleasure.” But I am instantly sorry I said I had to go. Something under my skin bubbling up, the need to finish prepping my class before I leave. But I could have been happy standing there a few more minutes, fixing the world together. I wish I had.
My grief surprises me. First, I am disappointed in the very act of voting for Elizabeth Warren because overnight they have decided she’s already lost. Later, I walk down the narrow hallway of my trailer home, my being pulled inward, heavy, weighed down by decades of elections behind me, only the rare win, 44 years of voting for people and causes I believe in and seeing them lose. I watch Elizabeth Warren announce her withdrawal, hear her voice break again and again, admire her ability to be poised and honest and vulnerable at the same time. I honor her grace and authenticity. I cry unexpected tears, the ones she fights back on camera. It comes to me that I am now more fond of her than ever. I am crying for her, for her monumental effort, grappling to accept this ending, as much as I am crying for my own loss, and for all the women like me who were so full of hope we might finally have a woman lead us. She’s not wrong. Her efforts moved things forward in a big way. And I love that those pinkie swears count, that disappointing all those little girls she met during the campaign is one of the things breaking her heart. The next day, the L.A. Times writes that surely those little girls will see a woman president elected here in their lifetime. It stops me. I do the math. They’re predicting within the next 60 or 70 years? Surely, you jest. How about before those little girls reach their teens? How about 2024? How about we elect a brave, bright, talented, experienced woman of color with grace and a big, big heart?
The teacher reads Etty Hillesum’s work out loud. It is beautiful prose, steeped in wisdom and love. (Later she is killed at Auschwitz.) Etty holds the horror and the dying. She finds joy in the jasmine, white against the dark wall, lets her heart lift. She cradles both.
The #MeToo movement makes me see I stopped challenging our patriarchy. How much my own world view is shaped by men. Has me seeking the women in books I love. Starhawk’s Maya and Madrone. Bujold’s Ista. McCaffrey’s Moretta. Odd heros, maybe, but today I want to be them.
Early on in discussions about immigrants from Africa and Haiti President Trump asks why we’d want people from “all these shithole countries.” Forget Ukraine. (Not really.) The “shithole” countries and his remarks about “grabbing pussy” should’ve been enough to sink him.
I learn the FHA refused African Americans home loans in good areas. First I’m angry. Then I’m selfish. I could’ve had black kids on my block. Another heartbreaking part: this denied blacks the chance to build generational wealth. Hard to hold it all without white guilt.
We’re in the girl’s bathroom, plain white tile, 5th grade. The group of black girls in my class are breaking the rules, I think. I am a goody-two-shoes, say some snooty, uptight white girl thing? Later, our teacher names me the ringleader, and the black girls laugh.
[I plan to post one tweet each day in November @tryingmywings. I am re-posting them here.]