I just kept saying "No, no, no, no, no..." It had to be a bad dream or a terrible accident. It couldn't really be happening. Grief was present everywhere today. With my housemate this morning, on the faces of the commuters, including a young woman wearing a hijab. Among the high school students trying to process it and speaking to peers and adults. Among teachers and gardeners. With every diner and at every table in the crowded Mexican restaurant where a friend and I ate lunch. In choir tonight in the loft of a stone cathedral on the coast of California.
The sun rose this morning and the warmth returned. The temperature rose into the mid-70s. This afternoon, sounds of lawn mowers interrupted the conversations and the scent of cut grass blended with meat being grilled outdoors. But there was no celebration. There were official conversations on how to speak to students ranging from pre-school to 12th grade. There were emails and conversation times set aside. There were spaces for all employees to gather and be with one another.
Throughout this election I've been fearful to say much, thinking of the people in my life who feel differently or vote differently. I avoid conflict. But silence accomplishes nothing. I will respect the next president. I will not dismiss him nor his administration before it begins. I'll continue to believe in this country and respect the rule of law, the electoral college and our democracy. But I'm fearful. I'm saddened that we've chosen a leader who has not provided a detailed plan, who relies on slogans, repetition and boastful statements better suited to elementary school playgrounds to fill time in interviews and debates. He lacks critical experience, thought development, self-control, respect for anyone other than himself. He's bragged about committing sexual assault.
Beyond this new reality, beyond the disbelief and the acceptance that this is the path forward, I'm left trying to understand how words don't matter. That one man, our next president can say anything. That he can later deny his words, or be defended by others that they're meaningless, just words. That he tells it like it is, and we shouldn't be offended. That he didn't mean it. I've never been in a space, a family, a friendship, where my words didn't matter.