I am terrified. TERRIFIED.
Which is acceptable because I am a big fat coward. This is what I do. I will crush your cowardice with my cowardice. I fear many things and find myself having my face rubbed in those fears: drowning (I live on an island), pain (never have gotten the epidural in time), responsibility, being honest about my feelings, conflict, hurting people I love–
In preparation for the 4th of July, I ‘ve taken out the patriotic tablecloth, identified the clothing my kids will wear for the BBQ, and read a book to them about how the “Star Spangled Banner” was written. It could be the hormones or it could be the images of inspiring movies it brings to mind, but as I was reading about the rockets and the battle smoke and the flag being still there I got all choked up and crap. At the end of the book there’s a huge flag background with a line of silhouetted folks: kids, soldiers, regular people, etc. Unsolicited, Bella pointed to one of them, pulled her thumb out of her mouth, and said, “I want to be one of them.” Malcolm then said, “And I would salute the flag.” I was America’s Favorite Mother.
I love my country. I love everything it originally stood for. I love people. I’m extremely empathetic; I can’t look at someone and not imagine what they’re feeling. I don’t always take action when I know I should. Which makes me feel bad. Knowing what I should do and choosing not to do it because I’m afraid of whatever consequence I determine would be visited on me makes my heart beat faster and floods me with shame. I operate under these conditions often.
I will lose friends today. And those I don’t lose will look at me differently, think of me differently, and I’m already hurting about that. When I’m afraid I get very quiet. My heart pounds harder. When I feel I’m supposed to say something in front of a group of people, my heart pounds harder. So what we have here is me, feeling my chest about to explode.
Every day I’m asked a question, multiple times: “How are you going to react to this? What are you going to do?” This ranges from How are you going to spend this Sephora gift card? to How are you going to handle this blatant act of cruelty?
(I finally used that Sephora gift card I got for my birthday. The plan was to buy all these hot glossy makeup items, but who are we kidding–I blew it all on anti-aging and hair thickening products.)
For the more serious stuff the answer is always intense, never comfortable, and no matter how many detours I take, remains unavoidable.
I love my family, I love my friends, I love my country, and I love my God. We like to say “God is love.” He tells us that He is love. It is super comfortable to tell people God is love. Because He is.
Back in El Paso, I was at the kitchen table one day. Bella was two and a half, Malcolm was five. I was trying to tell them the story of Noah’s Ark, complete with voices, grand sweeping hand gestures, and inspiring facial expressions. When I got to the third day with the dove being sent out again, anticipating the return with evidence of land, I asked my enraptured children, “And what do you think he saw?!”
My darling cherub-faced Bella leaned over her plate and widened her eyes like mine, “The Debil…” she whispered.
This was neither the correct answer nor the expected one. But I had to laugh and at least give myself props for trying.
There’s been a blanket of rainbows over my computer. Rainbows over my friends’ faces, over the White House, over news feeds. And it is beautiful. It’s love. It’s acceptance. It’s support. Encouragement. Celebration. Relief. I want to feel all those things for all the people who have suffered so much and endured such frustration and hate and hopelessness. I want my friends to be safe and loved and supported and happy.
So this is hard for me. I cannot reconcile my desire to be tolerant, or to be tolerated and accepted myself, with my knowledge of and belief in the lines that were drawn. Both by the Constitution and by the definition of love in which I believe. I am not without sin. Clearly. So I do my best not to cast stones. I am also very ignorant of politics and avoid conversations involving them as I would a foaming rabid beast. But I see where the lines are and I cannot cross them. Yet, I love. I love so much.
I believe things that are not popular. Things that get twisted and malformed and thrown back at me when I speak them. So I don’t speak.
I am between a Rock and a Hard Place.
I can’t in all honesty say this was not expected, but I will say that I do not think it is correct. And as I have pretty successfully avoided making any stance on any argument up until now, and have deliberated for days on whether or not I will even publish this, I am afraid. What good does it do to declare this? If nothing else I think I have to do it for myself to prove that I believe it enough. But if I can accept what others believe and still be friends, I have to assume that’s a two-way thing.
When I think of rainbows I think of Noah’s Ark. Noah’s rainbow is my rainbow. My God’s promise. In the fog of what feels very much like a battlefield, it is my answer to the question, Are You still there?