I'm a third-generation American who now believes that I have a target on my back.
When I step out my door, do people hate me because of the color of my skin? Yesterday, I would have said no. But today, after 43 years of living in this country, after growing up in the heartland and going to a good Midwestern college and paying my taxes every year since I was 15 and ALWAYS tearing up when I sing the National Anthem, I have to believe that half the people I meet on the street hate me.
Because a majority in this country voted to make Donald Trump our next president.
Mexicans in this country were the first people Donald Trump declared war on. He declared war on such a wide variety of people that I think that gets forgotten. But I got to be afraid from the very, very beginning of his campaign.
As I lay awake last night, afraid to go to sleep because of the anxious nightmares I would have, I thought how much this felt like 9/11. We lived in Washington, D.C., in 2001 and had my husband been in his office at that moment, he would have seen the plane fly into the Pentagon. The day and the next day and the next were met with these feelings of surrealism, of not knowing what steps to take forward on this unknown path. Of heart-pounding anxiety one second and then of resolute focus on my two young sons and our future the next. I had two other people mention 9/11 to me today. We're comparing Donald Trump's election to a terrorist attack. And rather than it being reserved for those of us in New York and D.C., the whole country is getting to feel the terror.
Or rather, half of the country.
We walked our dog this morning while we tried to walk off our anxieties, and I noticed the other brown people on the street. Brown people walking to work and driving a truck and streaming off a bus. Did they feel those targets. Did they notice me and wonder if I was afraid, too? It was so quiet when I went about my errands. I noticed the white men that jogged on the street or carried my new propane tank to the car. Did they hate me? Were they concerned that I might hate them, that I might suspect them of this bomb that has hit us?
It's so quiet right now. I know it's not going to stay that way. I think the financial impact of this decision was everyone's immediate concern. I know it was the concern of my teenaged son. "We're going to be starting our adult lives in the next eight years," he said while I sat next to him in bed, breaking the results to him gently. "How're we going to do that if the economy tanks?" I'm sure there are a number of anxious parents out there nervously eyeing the money that they pinched and sweated to save in college savings accounts. My next-door neighbor, in her 60s, is terrified their life-savings will be wiped out.
So much fear. But I know, no matter how much we'd like to, few of us are spending the day in a fetal position with our thumb in our mouth. We're working and taking care of children and running errands and writing cathartic blogs. We're controlling what we can control. It's what my husband and I discussed on that walk: what we can control. We can control our careers, our personal health (we tend to enjoy comfort food, cocktails and Netflix during times of stress), and our relationships with the people we care about. We can make sure our marriage is strong. We can make sure our sons are safe and provided for. We can be vigilant and -- if it gets as bad as we hope to God it doesn't get -- we can fight.
But that's for the future. Right now, I'm in the first 12 hours since this cataclysm happened. Right now, I'm controlling what I can control. I'm anticipating the worst. Praying for the "not quite so bad." And trying to adjust to an America that, in my naïveté, I can't believe is real.