End of an Era

I awoke this morning and put on an old mechanical watch I hadn't worn in days. It had run down, so I needed to reset the calendar. That was how I realized that today was January 19th, 2017. The last day.

It felt like the last day, too, though I fought that. Today my professional life was filled with people discovering broken things that nobody knew how to fix. And I resisted it, I tried not to lapse into lazy cynicism and confirmation bias, but I could not help but think it a metaphor for what is to come.

The man who is to come is quite a piece of work. He is loud and brutish and vindictive. He is possessed of that particularly deadly strain of ignorance and intellectual laziness that is convinced of its own brilliance. He seems eager to sow conflict, a foie gras goose gavaged with hot takes and contempt, then pointed at the country and squeezed like a bagpipe. It is good that he does not drink, because he is the clearest, most shining example of alcoholic psychology run amok that I have ever witnessed. I am, in short, afraid of him.

The man who is leaving, he is also a piece of work. He is studied and careful. He listens. He is a scholar, but he is not content to cloister himself off with books. He made a life out of helping, and it appears he's just getting started.

Don't get me wrong, he's pissed me off plenty. He is not everything I could want in a leader. He has broken my heart a time or two.

But he did the job well. He did it with dignity and class and grace. He continued to reach across the aisle no matter how many times the Party of No slapped his hand away, no matter how many of us counseled him to stop what proved to be a mostly futile gesture. Futile, maybe, but he left the country better than he found it, and it is by their fruits that you shall know them.

People have tried to dismiss my current slurry of dread and sorrow as a loser's sour grapes. These people do not grasp that I am a Southern Liberal. Losing elections is common and familiar to me. It is practically my god damned raison d'être. So, no. This is different.

So I'm hammering this out before I end a very long day. I am pondering a very long four years in which a lot of people I love are going to get hurt while forty percent of my country cheers. This leaves me sad and angry a lot of the time.

I am told that that's a glimmer of what it's like to be black or gay or trans or Muslim in this country, but I don't dare believe it. I lose nothing tomorrow.

I am tempted to put a rather shiny bow of optimism on this, end with something hopeful about following the example of the one who is leaving. But I know that tomorrow I will likely not muster more than grim determination. I may snap at my coworkers or family. I will waste at least an hour's worth of minutes wondering what the first international incident will be (I'm not counting the two he's already managed).

But the children have school. I have work. I am needed. There are things to be done that I can control, in some small measure.

One of those things: I am pointing to the loud ones and asking my children, do you hear them? Do you hear God in that racket? Do you hear love? And they tell me no, and they appear to mean it. There's at least something to that.

This weekend we march.