My two-year-old hides behind his hands, then throws his arms out wide while shouting, “Boo!”
I shriek as if startled, which makes him scream in delight before devolving into giggle-fits.
We repeat this over and over. Sometimes, we’ll do it a hundred times in one sitting.
My seven-year-old recently asked, exasperated, why I pretend to be afraid.
I replied, already wistful, “Your brother will understand soon enough that he’s not actually scaring me. So while he still believes it, I’ll keep on shrieking. I’ll keep on cherishing the sweet sound of him laughing, knowing he’ll soon enough be on to other joys.”
“Oh. Will you scream if I do it, too?”
“Sure, if your brother’s around.”
So he tried, too, and I shouted in mock horror.
Now, for at least a little while, both my little boys take turns scaring me, and I’m happy.
Today I got a blood-chilling text message. For privacy reasons, I can’t get into its details.
What I can say is that, in the moment of seeing such a message, everything superfluous falls away inside. Even if the outside world demands interaction, that’s all done on auto-pilot.
Heart, mind, soul, all turn toward what’s most important: each other.
All’s well, happily, but I have a favor to ask of you. Please call or text someone you love right now just to let them know how much you love them. I’d be so grateful.
Many times, I’ve explained how the Democrats lost me.
No times, until this week, did I explain how Bernie Sanders won me.
Writing about my love instead of my earlier rage felt joyous. Right.
Something unexpected and beautiful happened even after I posted. Someone tweeted three magic words that made me cry: I believe you.
For years, my slogan has been, “your belief is irrelevant.”
All the same, seeing those three words opened the floodgates for me. Those words of support weren’t only about me, but my mom, who spent her whole life yearning for people to believe and lift (instead of castigating) her.
I’ll include some more tweets behind a cut below. One was retweeted more than 80 times, which meant I saw the hashtag #IBelieveYou every few minutes throughout Saturday. Each time, I said quiet thanks.
In ways I’ll have to explain later, the piece only happened because I got out to vote for California delegates last weekend. Actually stepping out into my community and interacting with people here changed everything for me.
If you’re yearning to do something but don’t know what to do, you might consider attending an Our First Stand: Save Health Care rally tomorrow. People will gather across the U.S. to demonstrate our commitment to health care as a human right.
By showing up, you have the power to help save lives … all while setting aside worrying in favor of acting, from love.
It may not be everything, but it’s a fine start.
More #IBelieveYou tweets below the cut
Jane and I are old friends. When we talked on the phone yesterday, she described a post she was writing for Facebook. I loved what she was saying, and asked if she’d like to share the post here. I’m grateful she said “yes.”
The Privilege of Surprise
I paint my toenails every week. It’s a routine I got into when I was burning out of a classroom teaching job and I needed some ritual, some regular application of gentleness to myself, to keep me from collapse. The crisis is over, but the ritual has stuck.
I use cheap drugstore polish. It doesn’t have to last long. I have neons and deeps and darks and brights and glitters and pastels. Most weeks I just pick a color I’m feeling. In the last few months, though, I’ve increasingly been choosing colors that mean something. There is a pale blue that makes me feel the ocean. I wear that one when I need comfort. There is a bright orange-y pink that reminds me of my sister.
On Election Night, I wore red, white, and blue. I called them hopeful toes.
After Election Night, I wore black.
I have not felt like wearing bright since Donald Trump was elected. It’s been two months now, and I am just starting to realize that I lost big, deep things on that day and I may not get them back. I lost faith in my government. I lost trust that the police will keep me safe. I lost my sense that we are fundamentally okay here, that nothing that bad will happen.
I am a straight white cis woman who has never been poor. What I lost? Many people in this country have never had those things. I am only now starting to realize what a privilege it was ever to have them, and how little sense of what the world is really like for people of color, trans people, Muslims, immigrants, I have ever had.
I should have known this all along. Black people have been telling me. Queer people have been telling me. The people around me have been telling me, this is not okay, we are not safe, this country is killing us, and I have given it lip service, but I have had the luxury my entire life of looking the other way.
And I still can, if I choose to. Many of my fellow privileged Dems are ready to throw identity politics out with the bathwater. It doesn’t work, we’re saying. It’s too divisive. We can’t win elections and talk about bathrooms at the same time.
Y’all, listen. Bathrooms are not a fringe issue. Black Lives Matter is not a fringe issue. Fringes are on the outside of things, and so are margins; if the issues that most directly affect groups of people are relegated to the fringes, then we have marginalized those groups ourselves. We are reproducing the power structures that are killing our brothers and sisters and siblings right here in our own party.
Identity politics are politics. They are my politics. I care about the Affordable Healthcare Act and I care about public education and I care about the mass incarceration of Black Americans, and these are all connected. They all belong in the center.
As I noticed my surprise that I haven’t regained the things I lost—I still feel, two months later, like I was punched in the stomach by the Electoral College—I realized that even being surprised is a privilege. I have never before experienced disillusionment that doesn’t go away.
I’m ashamed to admit what a revelation this has been.
Today I painted my toenails bright. I don’t feel like bright yet. I don’t know when I will feel like bright again. But I no longer believe we have time to wait until we feel like it before we make the phone calls, paint the signs, and have the terrible conversations with the people we love who are saying broken things.
We do not have time to wait until we feel like it. We have to act.
I was prepared to love Bernie Sanders almost thirty years ago.
I was barely a decade old when I testified against a pedophile. He sat only a few feet away from me as I described how he’d once placed a hand on my breast.
I’ve written a hundred posts about how establishment Democrats destroyed my trust, and none about how Bernie Sanders gained it.
I couldn’t even see the imbalance until last night. After I posted “She is my people,” I realized that post had something missing from my other politics posts to date: love.
Caught up in learning to express what I dislike and distrust, I’ve failed to explain one single time what I like and trust, and why.
I’m mapping it out in my brain right now. It will take me a while, because speaking politics is so new to me. I’ve barely learned anything.
When I do post, it’ll be in praise, not protest. And it’ll have to do
with this picture of my mom fighting cancer
in a hospital bed, because
she taught me love, and
love doesn’t end
because a body
is laid to rest.