I have six sutures snaking across my upper back. The stitches look to have been sewn with navy blue fishing line, pulled taut and tied off into a grimace atop a fleshy ridge. Tomorrow they’ll be removed. By all accounts the wound has been beautifully closed by skilled hands. But really, what does that mean? Does it mean it will heal well? Look pretty on the surface? Smooth and soft, demure like a slight smile?
So much of life is never what it appears to be. Marriage is more constantly challenging, motherhood more regularly enervating, driving times but estimates failing to take into account traffic, other drivers’ skills or lack of, accidents, weather.
Our “president” is even worse than he seemed at first, a greedy buffoon with bad hair, bad ties, orange skin, and dubious business success. He is, in fact, a truly horrible, greedy, mean narcissist who still has bad hair, bad ties, orange skin, and dubious business everything. He is a bigot, a racist, a liar, and a fraud.
It has been hard to be back here. Hard to return to swastikas and white supremacists and the pardoning of a man who unabashedly targeted minorities and made them suffer. It has been almost impossible to watch our “leader” make equivalent the neo-Nazi racists and those who peacefully (and even less peacefully) opposed them. There is no equivalent. None.
It has been hard to watch brave men and women who've fought in our military be suddenly banned from service because they are transgender. It has been sickening to hear bullshit claims that their medical costs are too much of a burden to this country, not worth their courage and service, when in fact our military spends five times that amount on Viagra and our deplorable “leader” has already spent more on personal travel.
The stitches itch something fierce and the skin around them is raw and red, irritated by the bandage adhesive keeping them slicked with ointment and padded and covered.
The country aches something fierce and so many are raw and red, furious and exhausted by the fight since our birth, since the Civil War, since emancipation, since suffrage, since battles for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights and reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights. Like the worst sort of full circle we have a "leader" - with bad hair and bad ties and orange skin and the meanest streak - who wants to take us back to before, to the time of our birth. To the time when only he and men who looked like him, potentially minus the orange skin, could succeed or even hope to.
Friends and family and millions of strangers spent the past few days battening down for and enduring Hurricane Harvey. It has been a Katrina redux to watch Houston flood. And our “president”? He pardoned a racist crook, banned willing and brave service members, and tweeted a book review on the day the rain started to fall. As if that imbecile reads anything booklength or not about him. He flew south during the campaign although he was asked not to. He’s barely said boo to Texas, a state that handed him its electoral votes, since Friday and might go visit on Tuesday.
While in the Netherlands I got to spend time with a friend there. She was lamenting her daughter’s nearly-six-week summer break; summers are tough for working parents. Who watches their children? Where? For how much? I said, I understand, we have twelve weeks.
Summer is now officially long in the tooth. I’m sick of it. The next eight days will be a slog, an uncomfortable fishing line grin snaking across the remains of August. The rose-colored summer break is at once marvelous and not at all what it appears to be.
And yet this is life. There is a PE uniform to buy (late) and braces to be set and schedules to be made. There is the weeding of the garden, the removal of all whose season has passed, the extra love given to all who persevere in the blurry pages between summer and fall. Perhaps we’ll get some more tomatoes, squash, and melons. But the arugula is long gone, the peppers and okra now wisps of hope. The birds have stolen all of the berries, and I have stopped fighting them. For this year at least.
I will try to find my way back to activism but also to the simpler things that enable me to better care for myself and my family. This fight is going to be a long one, and we all must both protest and pace. It will, potentially, take generations to undo and heal some of what Trump has wrought. But he is not the only one to blame.
This country has never adequately reckoned with its racist birth and past and the ways in which those old tentacles reach insidiously into the present. That failure allowed such a heinous individual to (sort of) win a presidential election, and if we, white America, do not deal with our wrongs now, we are as complicit as ever in laying the groundwork for another Trump in the future.
Stitches may capably close a wound but talented hands don’t ensure the underlying ill is excised. A lovely scar can mask ugliness. Just ask America.