Island in the City: Two Strangers

November 10, 2016

 

On the night of November 8th, 2016, I walked home from work half paying attention to traffic and half glued to live election updates on my phone. I scrolled through the numbers and the red states and the blue states and wondered how much and how fast things were about to change for the US. I was shouting at my phone like a crazy person, walking into light poles, and shrugging at the cars honking at me. I finally got to the front steps of my apartment building entrance, took a seat, put my gloves on, and lit a cigarette. 

 

I thought back to November 4th 2008, the day Obama swept the race for presidency. I was sitting comfortably in my room on Guam watching live coverage on the news, breathing heavily between homework and hoping. How different it was for me then, the island heat and excitement in my veins, all the potential I wanted to believe in, seeing a black democrat seated in arguably the most powerful position anyone could get themselves to. 

 

But this year was different. I was sitting by the street, out in the cold, under trees that were going bare. Colorado was about to go blue when I heard two men in the distance. They were holding each other, laughing like they were heading home to good news. They were wearing each other's smiles, the way our mirrors do on our brightest days. My eyes darted back and forth between their brisk stroll and the numbers on my screen. One of them said something about marriage, and how a honeymoon somewhere in Montreal or Paris or maybe somewhere with a warmer sun would be amazing. And then they locked lips, still walking, shared a kiss in motion through all the stillness in the air. The numbers on the screen increased more and more in Trump's favor and I wondered if they had any clue about his impending victory. I wondered what a Trump Nation would feel like, what it would look like, what it would sound like. And I wondered if the two strangers would go on to spend forever together like they hoped. I killed my cigarette in the dead flowers by the door and washed the day from my face.

 

Trump had locked his victory before I was ready to go to bed, and even when I crawled into my sheets, I couldn't sleep. What bothered me most, I think, was feeling the stab of a system which allows for such dangerous and corrupt individuals to rise to power. I rummaged through old memories of bad leaders, distant pages of historic tragedies. I sifted through the articles and videos and memes and posts; my blurry search for clarity, a gasping breath beneath the swelling panic. What finally put me to rest was remembering that overcoming adversity requires a patient hopefulness, sometimes an aggressive fearlessness, and by the looks of things, many people in this country have both. Many people weren't ready for these results, many more are afraid of what's to come, but so many are already prepared to meet the hate with compassion. So many already understand that the next four years are going to be long and painful and the best way to get through them is standing, together, like two strangers walking through the cold, dreaming of something distant and beautiful. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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