Tears. It is often the arrival of unexpected tears which feel the most powerful when they arrive. The tears that sneak up and surprise, indicating deeply flowing emotions I may not have known were hiding. This happened yesterday when I read the news of the election results. Not when I heard about them but when my eyes beheld them. It was as if someone rerouted a river within. Water arrived in a place previously out of reach. When water pours into a dry place more quickly that it can be absorbed it leaks over the edges.
I didn’t expect to react by crying. But then, I didn’t expect the nation to react with singing either. I didn’t expect to see such hope on previously haggard faces. Black and brown people buoyant, ebullient, unabashed. My relief was liquid when instead of angry protests I saw Americans dancing and singing in the streets. No hateful spewing. No thrashing and bashing. Joyful dancing. Music. Kindness. Jubilant bodies seeking each other as if magnetized by delight. The queer community glowing, sparkling, flying all our flags and calling out our answered prayers. Everyone lifting voices, banners, faces, arms, up, up, up, and I wept repeatedly.
Honestly, I’d lost touch with the possibility that I would see such a thing ever again (or at least, any time soon) because we are all so changed now and our lives so heavily edited now. Our adjustments and rituals of endurance, compliance, survival so heavy with resignation to a new normal. I’d forgotten the joyful noise. I’d forgotten some things never change. There is a visible, audible, tangible difference between pride because of rather than in spite of. It made me remember. It made me weep. I did not weep alone. By several million, I did not weep alone.
I heard other voices. A choir on risers behind the celebration. Women who were once declared legally insane for wanting to vote; now with new representation, higher than history has ever allowed. They sang. Hair rose up along my arms and neck like antennae. Immigrant women who were once barely considered people, much less citizens; their bloodlines now reaching more deeply into leadership than history has ever allowed. A nation who so recently caged children of color has elected one of them to a higher seat of government than history has ever allowed. I trembled with awe that this is no longer disallowed. My heart simply overflowed.
I whispered the words aloud, America didn’t just elect him. America just elected her. And then I dropped the prologue and repeated, America elected her. Even slower, America elected her. So when the speeches came later they did not reach my ears as rhetoric but as an affirmation that all I feared was lost in this citizenship is still alive. Every time I saw and heard this repeated, I cried again. A day later the tears still fall in moments when in her words I dare to believe in an America where this is possible and then realize I live in that America today. My soul’s ecstasy leaks through the permeable membrane of my physical body.
As a white person of privilege learning every day to acknowledge the burden of atonement I bear for all my people have done to indigenous people, enslaved people, refugees, and immigrants, every small act of giving away that privilege until we are all people of privilege feels like a sacred obligation. We can never undo that damage but we can create a place and a time for all people to become so unified, restored, nurtured, and protected that privilege is no longer coveted.
An inch forward is progress. Here in my own personal COVID bubble I forgot the sight and sound of others who want a well world as I do, and the reminder renders me grateful and relieved. This is why I still observe a sabbath. Today is a weepy one but my tears feel ancient. They feel echoed. Hallowed. Because the momentum pushing these inches forward began generations ago. Decades, centuries, as long as there have been humans and human healers. There have always been voices reciting the truth that unless sovereignty is equally shared it will always be someone’s tyranny.
In this regard I have resolved to drop my use of the social superlatives Queen and King when I want to laud the work or existence of someone. Leadership should not include the subjugation of anyone, even the loyal, adoring, and willing. I’m not going use them casually/socially anymore. I do want to elevate the previously suppressed and repressed to the highest social echelon we’ve ever known but I no longer feel it is appropriate to use the metaphor of monarchy to articulate it. And for our non-binary folks, it continues to marginalize them when they too are breaking chains. We will have to think of something better to call ourselves.
I would say that I hope someday the title American will be synonymous with this sentiment, but that’s still clannish and self-serving. I want this for everyone. Every one. I gladly cry for every inch toward global wellness a saline consecration of humanity’s shared divinity. Magic dripping down my face in liquid form. Seasoning the earth and the bones of the departed who moved us forward this far. Signaling the spirit world.