“Who knows what women can be when they are finally free to become themselves? Who knows what women's intelligence will contribute when it can be nourished without denying love?”
This month's Supermoon left me crestfallen. If we are being honest, the floor of November is strewn with disappointment and protesters come close but nothing says broken like Mother Nature. A moon that isn't super, global warming, and rom-com rain following the election are undeniable signs that Mama N is not happy.
And how could she be? In dreams, the moon represents some hidden, mysterious aspect of yourself. It is often associated with the feminine mystique and intuition. America needs to be a Supermoon. And Mama N, ruler of the feminine mystique (next to Betty Friedan), knew that “The feminists had destroyed the old image of woman, but they could not erase the hostility, the prejudice, the discrimination that still remained.” This year, where a qualified, brilliant, well-spoken woman had the credibility and courage that should have guaranteed her success, the country that falsely raised me to believe in possibility voted an unqualified, unprepared man in her place. I guess the truth behind the 20% pay gap is not only that is is justifiable for women to earn less for working harder but also for women to forget one another--to not champion our own successes as a tribe.
To the 53% of women who voted for Trump: You must have been the same girls who sat together, in your Abercrombie and Fitch uniform pants, gossiping about how my hand-me-down-shorts were too baggy and how dumb I looked, always raising my hand in class. I did not let you get me down then and I refuse to do so now. Back then, you saw yourselves as something important because you were beautiful and your strawberries weren't soggy by lunchtime and your supplies were as name-brand as your underwear. When you decided this made me inferior to you, I thought it was something that would change with time. I did not realize that the way you made me feel in fifth grade could be the way I feel now, when your power made the difference between something good and something else.
I know this is not just my fight. In fact, I represent such a tiny blimp on the spectrum of sadness. But that doesn't make my sorrow less important. I choose to stand with the people who have to fight--with them. As a woman who gets sexually assaulted more on trains now than she did a month ago--who has African lineage, Israeli blood, and a human heart. I hope to never become complacent. To never accept this new normal. Someone will always be suffering, in this new world.
The first words of Donald Trump's victory address was "Thank you" and Hillary Clinton's speech was plagued by "Sorry." An apology to a nation that could not do right by her--by America--and she apologies. Now, Donald Trump also apologizes, in his speech: He begins his victory garble with "Sorry to keep you waiting, complicated business." He does not apologize for mocking people with special needs, for claiming ownership of the female body (in more ways than one), for threatening the lives of most of the American population. He uses an excuse I imagine we will spend the next four years expecting.
I know people like that; who mask their true intent in barely sensical phraseology; who employ the same four lines with such vigor, it makes you feel both special and scared. It's business-minded people in a position of power who have more at stake than a company. Business men who put themselves first, when there is an entire system built around them.
But Barack Obama, in 2008, began his victory speech with "Hello Chicago! If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things were possible..." He goes on to glorify the American Dream, to paint the new America as it could be. As it could have been. That is inspiration. That is what a winner looks like. That is the Supermoon.
Since the election, along with the shock and confusion, fear and embarrassment, pain and anger that I feel---I have begun to apologize even more for myself. For the way I come into a room, for my tone, for the way I assert myself into situations. For the way I am viewed and the way I want to be seen. It is fifth grade all over again. The school-yard bully is mocking the children with special needs, firing rounds of "You can't sit with us!" at the ones who look different, and sitting on a throne made from someone else's hard work. And where is the Supermoon?
Waiting for December.
Dear Fall in New York,
I just love you. Bouquets of sharpened pencils aside, thank you for windy walks home and sweater weather.
Dear Greenwich Avenue,
In the fall, once they've put up all the Christmas lights, I swear you're a little piece of London to this girl with wanderlust. Thank you for fish and chips and ginger beer and heavy accents.
Dear Hot Apple Cider,
This year I'm sitting on my porch with you and you taste like warm kisses and good company.
Dear New Books,
I wish I had more time to read you. Thank you for your patience.
Dear Election Season,
You're coloring my anxiety red, white, and blue. I'm tired of talking about you. Please go away.
Dear Grad School,
You're almost through. Please stop giving me busy work.
Can't we reach a compromise?
Dear Friends I Haven't Seen In Forever,
Thank you for keeping me warm and letting me play my sad music so loudly.
Dear Gilmore Girls,
Comes sooner. All of my pop-culture references expire after 2007.
Dear Gansevoort Market,
You are no Chelsea Market but I appreciate your efforts. Thank you for being less crowded and playing good music.
You happened so fast.
The baby crying on the train is grinding against her mother's chest, like if she pushes deep enough she'll find the heart in the callous woman who yells "You're embarrassing me" as her daughter, who cannot yet speak our language, chokes on her own ache. She never asks "What's wrong?"
This baby will yell until someone asks her. But we cannot. We can only listen. This 45 minute train ride is an eternity; hell is crying babies and a throbbing uterus. Give me your baby, I have nothing but love in me.
I say this too often to too many parents who have failed their children somehow. I vow to do better by my children than the things I've seen but what do I know? We are all products of our parents, of our broken parts, of the way it feels to promise.
I am a bystander; peering through the windows of dark homes and expecting a light to turn on. But it doesn't. We are all a little more in the dark than we'd like to let on. I am learning this slowly.
In a time where I am supposed to build a life, I shy away from connection. On the train, I'm staring at a poster that says "Self Storage is Stupid" and make a list of other things that are stupid. I loathe that word but sense the term 'self' is what, then, becomes "stupid." Being too self-reliant, self-assured, self-doubting, self-fulfilling. Any extremity of "self." I am a person who drowns in her-self. In the responsibilities of self. There is a world of things that only we own, but the people around us wear sweaters they also call self. We are lonely but we aren't alone.
I tell myself this often. A person away from my perfect day, I've resolved not to let disappointment color all of the walls in my studio apartment. So I've taken to putting up picture frames. Even empty, a home for something is better than no home at all.
I sit, sardined, on a Brooklyn Bound A Train and I imagine what I must look like, a perception of myself, dressed somewhere between weekend-chic and Indiana Jones. In a moment of weakness, I can feel wetness on my exhausted face. I sigh. I had secretly (not so secretly) hoped for a visitor this weekend and, a person so in love with love, I was disappointed when that imagined tryst did not occur.
A woman I work with cautioned me, "Marry a teacher, no one else will understand the work you do." And, when not even I understand what keeps me up at night, I long for someone to console me. I am a version of self that stupidly strives to do everything on her own. I would kill to drop the ball and know that someone else would catch it.
Is that so wrong?
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.