The Breath Before the Storm
Today is the day before the storm.
In this house, only two are American citizens, and only one is of legal age to vote.
I am that voter.
I can report in no uncertain terms the levels of anxiety in this house. My husband, who is a UK citizen, has found this an especially burdensome time. On one hand considered the very best kind of immigrant (white, educated, from a European country, no prior entanglements with the law), and the other, a liberal, (a dirty word to some of my family relations) he has a special burden in that he is not a citizen and therefore cannot vote until he is one.
I am an American citizen, born and raised.
And of our two middle school-aged children, my son entered this existence via my womb, which in the country he was born in is the “vessel” (nationality reserved) listed on his arrival documents handed me upon his birth (no joke). And since my uterus is contained within a US citizen body, he is, therefore, a US citizen also.
My daughter is an adopted citizen of another country, and too young to vote.
The whispers of unrest and violence seen on the news in other parts of the country are felt deeply by people like us — a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, multi-national family. We are global nomads, who just happen to be in the US during this time. We move to a country, integrate and work, and after a few years, move on to greener pastures. Because of coronavirus, many borders are closed to us at this time, so invitations to leave can’t be seriously considered.
Four years ago, the elections were a supreme disappointment, and since then we have weathered the hurricane surrounding the current administration with smothered horror. We watched as certain things that should have been said, weren’t, and how the calming balm usually offered a suffering nation was never extended.
In the absence of answers or directives, people and nature tend to find their own way, sometimes with unintended consequences.
When the banks of a river swell, all of that energy needs to go somewhere, so dams burst, banks are overrun, and new paths are forged. Good and bad consequences happen: new forests can be made, new sources of water made available, or breeding habitats are wiped out and a species has to find a way to adapt or goes extinct. This is the same with people. If their fears, concerns, and rages are not addressed, this energy has to go somewhere. If anticipated properly, it can be channeled in a constructive way, and if not, destructive things can happen.
The past four years have been a hurricane: the winds have steadily grown the past few months and the tremblor is deafening. The marches and protests, the shootings, the deep fake videos, and unrest have not stunted beliefs in the facts, but have deeply eroded trust in others and institutions. Friends and family ties have even been affected as we all break ourselves on the rocks of our beliefs, and claim which hills to make our last stands. Sometimes, sadly realizing we are standing utterly alone.
As world travelers, our view of what’s happening is that of a wide-angle lens.
We have seen it in the IRA bombings of the ’90s in England, the mass transportation strikes of Greece, the flag-waving protests we witnessed in Thailand, the immigrant crisis in Myanmar, the anger and frustrations of the Workers Party of Singapore, and so many other moments in time that have rocked nations and their people.
I suppose the lesson here, is that this election in America is also but a moment in time. Tumultuous while being experienced, it will inevitably pass. Whatever will happen tomorrow and the days that follow will be dissected by fascinated historians and watched with great apprehension by people like me who have to live through it. People that realize this is a great moment, know it’s dwarfed by how sad it is, too. There can be no winning tomorrow at all if it's accompanied by tragedy. There might even be a smattering of other moments as people that have claimed their hills will take action.
Nevertheless, the moment is almost here. I am making myself ready as best I can, reading and letting my logic soothe my nerves from the cacophony of raised voices. The calm is nice, but it’s passing too quickly. I hope it gives us all time to reflect on what we’ve learned, both good and bad. I hope this pause also illuminates the way forward.
Tomorrow will come the storm.