Letters from the Upside Down: Everything was Awesome Until it Wasn’t
An open letter to my expat friend in Switzerland.
November 15, 2016
Greetings from the darkest possible timeline. We all have goatees and wear sashes here. We think good things are evil, and evil things are good. Firefighters burn down houses and put kittens in trees.
And the Cubs won the World Series.
And Chief Wahoo is — somehow — still a thing.
It’s been a week since the election and I still haven’t recovered from the whiplash.
Last Tuesday was electrical. O and I woke up early — I leapt out of bed and threw on my Hillary ’16 shirt and O wore her rainbow of pantsuits t-shirt, and we headed to the polls so we could be there when they opened.
We vote in an Arab-American social club, and it gave me extra pleasure to strike a blow against George III and Donald Trump by voting against his racist campaign there. There were no lines, but it was busy. Every voting booth was taken, every voting machine busy scanning ballot after ballot.
We took selfies outside with our “I Ohio Voting” stickers (Get it? Ohio is shaped like a heart! Of course you get it, you’re from here.) and I took O to Bonbon for an Election Day breakfast!
We were so thrilled to have been able to cast our votes for the FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT. Not just the first woman candidate from a major party, and not just for Hillary Clinton, though that in itself was an honor. We were thrilled for the first African-American president to be followed by the first woman president.
We were thrilled that our three, beautiful nieces; three young ladies of color, would grow up seeing their skin and their gender as something powerful. Two-hundred years of white men, but THEIR experience of the American Presidency would be their own reflections.
And what did we have to worry about!?
Did you see the polls? Did you watch Hillary Clinton dismantle her rival on the debate stage like a frog in biology class? Did you believe in basic human decency and that while a lot of your fellow Americans are racist, most of them aren’t THAT racist?
We were ready to party like it was 2008!
I figured the end of the world would be quick somehow; an asteroid, a nuclear blast, a giant Norse wolf-god swallowing the moon!
It happened in slow mo.
Crimson pouring over blue, industrial states.
We sat grimly until Pennsylvania was called. We didn’t even have the sense to weep. Everyone just left in a daze.
It’s been a week and there’s been tears and outrage. There’s been blame. There’s been safety pins, and think pieces about safety pins, and think pieces about think pieces about safety pins. I still can’t bring myself to take down our yard sign. O says it has to be today.
I suppose we should feel defeated. I suppose that those morning tacos I enjoyed in honor of Hillary and a taco truck on every corner should have turned to ashes in my gut on Wednesday morning.
But hundreds of my friends voted last week, and did so with pride. Friends whose only political act had been re-posting an Addicting Info article are now calling and writing their senators and governors. More people voted against the president-elect’s message of hatred than voted for it.
And it IS awful, Tim. I thought the dissembling and iniquities of the Bush administration were unbearable; this is going to be so much worse.
But they can’t take away last Tuesday morning; rising early with my wife, and casting our votes as free citizens for what we know is right.
And they’re going to have hell to pay all the way up to the midterms. And then?
I think I heard it said once or twice the past eight years: “We’re going to take our country back!”
Your Friend with Love,
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Peter J Roth is a scalawag playwright from Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter @PeterJ_Roth.