Last night, I dreamed I was up north, riding in a car, my dad driving. I looked out to see a huge full moon, blazing over the water. We drove along the road behind the houses; a man stood beside his mailbox, a small deer resting on his shoulders–like a shepherd with a lamb. There was snow on the ground, just a little.
I wonder if I can stay here tonight, I thought, because I so wanted to, as we went on towards the cottage. My parents must have heat, I thought…
Even as the cottage sits dark and shuttered, all closed up, the pipes drained and empty, the lawn chairs and kayaks put away, I dream that my dad is taking me there, along a moon-drenched coast where deer come out to forage in the snow.
Perhaps he is ferrying me away from all the ugliness of the election just passed. Neither of my parents were political people, didn’t talk about it much, weren’t activists. Always voted, but didn’t say much about who for. Even so, I am pretty sure they consistently voted Republican. This election, though, I feel certain my mother, at least, would not have. The pussy-grabbing thing—that would have been a deal-breaker.
Did they read much about politics? I doubt it. Just the local paper. We got the News—the Republican paper; Detroit’s other paper, the Free Press, leans Democrat. I seem to remember Time magazine in the house sometimes; my grandfather got U.S. News. Did my parents make mistakes, voting? Surely they must have. They probably voted for Nixon. Of course, not everyone would consider that a mistake.
Some of my parents’ political silence was due to their personalities, and their beliefs—that privacy and manners demanded one didn’t discuss politics, much less rant about them. But some of it was also their status. We were comfortable, white, middle-class (just barely, I guess; my dad had a technical job, was not a manager, and we were a single-income family). He worked at General Motors: in the 1960s, the largest corporation in the world. We had blue-chip health insurance. He had a job, always. That kind of security has gone away, for so many people.
I know it wasn’t really a simpler, happier time, my childhood. There was plenty of ugliness to see, if you were looking. The civil rights struggle, the firehoses and snarling police dogs, the hate. The murders of Martin Luther King and the Kennedys. Vietnam.
But I was a child through most of that. Now my responsibilities, and my awareness, and my responsibility to be aware, are so much bigger. Right now, they seem overwhelming. I have a sense of disorientation that hit me the morning after the election. The streets and cars and autumn-tinged trees looked the same, driving into work, but I couldn’t stop wondering: Where am I?
This writing is not a paean to the “good old days” of my childhood. I know I was sheltered and privileged, when others were not. I am just trying to make sense of this age of tumult and storm. There seems no center, and as everything becomes shakier, the electronics all around us amplify our fear and shout it back at us. They are not all unfounded, our fears; but in this maelstrom of political porn and screaming headlines (many of which are barefaced lies), attack and counterattack without even the space to breathe much less think, we have created scapegoats. We have bought into lies.
That dream last night, of being a child driven along the road to the cottage by my father—I think now that rather than taking me away he is taking me toward something. A world and a reality beyond this ocean of talking points, made-up, ugly stories that people are gobbling up like candy, editorials that verge on the obscene (yes, I do mean Breitbart). Or maybe he is taking me to the place where I feel most connected to the earth, our planet—now more than ever in need of protection.
It’s what most people want, I think, regardless of your color, origin, gender or sexuality. To be in a place where you feel centered, and whole. To be home.
I was almost there, in my dream last night. And wondered: Will I be able to stay?