So Much More than Sour Grapes

Election night, my wife and I went out to eat at a Thai and sushi restaurant about 10 miles from our home in rural Central North Carolina. I had been there months ago to get a bowl of soup, but it was her first time. When we walked into the small restaurant, it felt like we had just walked into a private party — uninvited. Every face, except for the waitress, was white. Every head of hair was varying shades of gray.

What were they seeing that caused them to stare, long after we were seated? Was it my wife’s beautiful, shoulder-length locs, tinged with their own grayness? My short platinum hair, in need of a touch-up? The two of us — white and black — together?

We settled in this predominantly white, predominantly Christian, predominantly Republican county three years ago. We moved here from our apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y, so my wife could spend the last days of her mother’s life with her.

We live on a piece of land that we’re told again and again is the most beautiful in the county. We have kind neighbors, helpful neighbors — neighbors who panicked when we told them we were considering moving closer to Raleigh-Durham last spring after my mother-in-law passed. They didn’t want to lose us, they said. “It’s hard to find good neighbors,” they said.

After Trump’s vulgar “Access Hollywood” comments came to light in early October, one of my neighbor’s asked what I thought. We talked for over a half hour, each of us respectfully sharing our opinions. He thanked me for telling him I planned to vote for Hillary Clinton — I was the first who admitted that to him, he said. “I still love ya anyway,” he said before going home to watch the presidential debate that night.

While my neighbor would later put two Donald Trump signs in his yard, I couldn’t bring myself to post a Clinton one. While she had my vote, Clinton didn’t have my adoration. My vote for her was a vote against him, plain and simple. I wasn’t willing to risk what felt like potential harm to myself, my wife, our home for someone I wasn’t passionately supporting.

Now I’m left to wonder if I should have done more than vote.

In the early morning hours after learning Trump had won, I sat in bed holding my wife as she cried. She wasn’t crying because her team had lost. She was crying because she feared that what has been gained through the hard work of so many for so long now has the potential to be lost.

Civil rights. Gay rights. Human rights.

Poof.

The Pollyanna in me wanted to tell her not to go down that rabbit hole — to keep her focus on what she wants, not on what she doesn’t want. I even suggested that Trump’s victory must be for the highest good or it wouldn’t be happening, which rang hollow even as it was coming out of my mouth.

My own tears and fears would rise up and spill out later in the day while I sat at my desk listening to people drive by honking and hooting at my neighbor’s pro-Trump signs. The sound gave me the same sickening feeling I had listening to Billy Bush and the other men on the Access Hollywood tape laughing as Trump talked of kissing and grabbing women by the “pussy” — because, as a “star,” he could.

In the afternoon, one of my family members, a Trump supporter, called to check on me. She showed compassion when I cried and couldn’t talk. She tried her best to understand what was behind my tears, even though I found it impossible to explain.

Today, this piece by John Pavlovitz, a Raleigh pastor, helps me to understand better what I am feeling — that this isn’t “just sour grapes” about losing an election. It’s about this:

“Every horrible thing Donald Trump ever said about women or Muslims or people of color has now been validated.

Every profanity-laced press conference and every call to bully protestors and every ignorant diatribe has been endorsed.

Every piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation Mike Pence has championed has been signed-off on.

Half of our country has declared these things acceptable, noble, American. 

This is the disconnect and the source of our grief today. It isn’t a political defeat that we’re lamenting, it’s a defeat for Humanity.”

I, like Pavolvitz, feel now as though I’m living in “enemy territory.” I feel that especially so living in a county where 77 percent of the people believe that someone who has spewed hate and vulgarity deserves to lead our beautiful country.

I find myself looking at the blue states, imaging a move to Vermont or back to Colorado, where I lived for about a year.

“We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize,” Pavolvitz writes.We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do. This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.”

Like Pavolvitz, I am grieving, but I’m also hopeful. Hopeful that I’m wrong about Trump. Hopeful that my marriage remains recognized as just that — and that other same-sex couples won’t lose their right to marry. Hopeful that my Muslim friends and those they love are safe. Hopeful that my wife’s daughter and her longtime girlfriend, both black and lesbian, will be safe, too.

Hopeful that Mr. Trump meant what he said in his victory speech: “We have to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together.”

Hopeful, mostly, that love really does trump hate.

This was shared on Huffington Post 11/10/2016

 

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  1. Nan Tepper says:

    Annie, this is a beautiful essay. Everything you said here is what I’m feeling, even living in “safe” blue New York. We shall overcome. #strongertogether

  2. Beth Kephart says:

    Dearest Annie, this is so beautiful. I am living this with you. Saddened and afraid that swastikas are now appearing on Philadelphia storefronts, that children in Philadelphia schools are being jeered and jabbed with fresh abandon. I pray this stops. I pray we strengthen our communities, not weaken them. I pray for all of us. And I’m sending love to you. Sending love to all our Field Noters. We have proof, the 13 of us, what community is and can and must be.

    • Annie Scholl says:

      Thank you, Beth… My new mantra: Pray and move my feet. Perhaps this will stir more of us to action – and to love.

  3. Lina Landess says:

    Annie – I am at a loss. At a loss for words because your words return that ache in my heart, felt so deeply and clearly throughout this piece. At the same time, I share your hopefulness; a hopefulness that our future president will put this country’s future above personal gain, will value humility over hubris, will recognize the responsibility he has now been given to govern a nation wherein so many people are hurting and that he will choose love over hate or fear, and that you, Michelle and all of us can feel safe, no matter our gender, who we love or how we look. Thank you for your beautiful voice.

  4. Kris Cameron says:

    Annie, this brought me to tears. These are all of the things I fear that others will go through. As a straight, white woman I do have privilege. However, the hate and sexism that he spewed every day was too much like the hate and sexism that my own father spewed. He was physically and verbally abusive. That’s why I got married at age 18, then moved as far away as I could. Trump’s words, his behavior, his actions, triggered emotions in me that I thought I had dealt with. I couldn’t sleep, I became lazy with work, I started drinking much more than I ever did. I was on Facebook and Twitter WAY TOO MUCH! I finally realized the hole I was sliding down was because he was triggering me. I also voted against Trump, not necessarily against Hillary. Sadly, I think this hate was out there simmering more than we would like to acknowledge that it was. He brought it to a boil. I don’t know if anything we could have done would have put the lid on it. I love you and Michelle (even though I haven’t met her). As a straight, white woman, I will fight with every ounce of strength for those who have been marginalized by his campaign. Love to you both!

    • Annie Scholl says:

      It has helped bring up what needs to be healed – within each of us, within our country… and so that, my friend, is a silver lining. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for your love. Ditto.

  5. Kris Cameron says:

    I voted FOR Hillary, not against. 🙂

  6. bar says:

    dear Annie and Michelle, this is such a perfect assessment of my Heart and mind. Thank you. Wednesday I felt like an earthquake had re-figured the whole of my world and I Could hardly bear it. Now I feel inspired to work harder to get things right. I’m sick in my heart but I want to have hope. I love you both. So glad you are together. Bar

  7. Ellie McFalls says:

    Beautiful Annie and very well said. Thank you for being our voice.

  8. brenda s. ehret says:

    As always, this writer can put together a unique sentence. More than that, she can express a view with a voice unlike any other. Her optimism, faith and hope frequently shine through her words…. I’ve not yet landed on ‘hopeful’. I’ve not yet been able to engage in meaningful dialogue about our election outcome and the infinite layers involved. So, I sit with my merry go round of emotions. I read the thoughts, fears and anger of others. I sleep less than ever, I go through the motions of my day. I’m grateful that you are hopeful, Ms. Scholl, truly grateful.

    • Annie Scholl says:

      I think it most important to allow ourselves to be where we are and feel what we feel. Always. Thank you for this… deep peace. deep bow.

  9. Jenny Bosking says:

    Thank you so much for this piece! Well done and you make the point so many of us are trying to make. Bless you. Bless your marriage.

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