It is the night before the election and I’m sitting in my car at a red light in the center of Northampton. Four people catch my eye. They appear to be two couples, or perhaps friends, standing on the corner but not waiting to cross. One of the men sports a Harley bandana and a ZZ-Top-like grey beard.
The woman closer to him, wearing an over-sized black coat, leans in and rests her head on his shoulder before reaching her arm out and placing her hand on his back. He returns the gesture. And they stand there like this for a moment, then kiss briefly before stepping apart. The light turns green. I feel like I’ve witnessed some tenderness, what unites us.
I notice the tattoo parlor’s neon “open” light flashing on and off and think about what powers the world as we largely know it. Electricity, signs, traffic lights, alarm clocks, phones and computers and televisions screaming fictions and falsehoods into our living rooms.
I think about how Pearl has been reminding me lately, “You know when we’re mad we still love you.” And how I tell her, yes, I know. The same goes for me, I say. Then I kiss her sweet cheek and think about how Vice-President Biden recently called transgender discrimination the “civil rights issue of our time.”
The night of the storm, I lost power for maybe four hours. I walked down the hallway holding a tealight, then went to bed and woke up to a new day, never the same as the last though so often the routines bleed resemblance, kind of like when I first look at a child’s face and for a moment think, “She looks just like her father,” then change my mind and see that she has her mother’s eyes, and then realize that both and neither are true–she looks brand new.
Then I wash the dishes, again, and shoo the kittens off the counter, and water the plants and scoop the litter and make the bed and pull on my coat and boots before driving to work.
I think about my magical girlfriend who lives two-thousand miles away, and how really all I want to is to stand in line next to her at the grocery store or hold her hand at the movies or remind her to pick up milk on the way home so that we don’t have a coffee emergency in the morning. The other night on the couch, my kids and I talked about what would happen if Romney becomes president. “What about gay couples who are already married? Would they be able to stay married?”
And I think about how adamant Aviva is about stereotyping, defending her slippers (“there is no such thing as ‘regular’ shoes!”) and pajama-looking outfits (“or school clothes!”), and even Mitt Romney himself (“he’s still a person, you know”). How she has watched this Ellen clip a dozen times, and pointed out the other day a sign that said, “Ladies Save 20% Every Thursday,” saying, “Mama, that’s so stupid.” She sees through the lies.
Our children are paying very, very close attention, and I’m thinking now about how the future of their bodies and families and the planet whose oceans and mountains and valleys and rivers and deserts and farmlands we all rely on rests in our hands.
Vote with your feet, people. Vote with your lady pens. Vote with your hearts. Vote with your minds.
Most of all, please, please: Vote with the times.