Photo by me of the home made time travel machine
Thirty-six days since the United States got Trumped, 36-days of questions, over and over: What to do? How to hold up? When to let go? Where to push back? Who to read and who to listen to? And still the nagging question: “How did it happen?” I walk the streets, looking for answers, and come across this Time Machine. I stop. Somebody put five cents down and jumped through. Where are they now? On hold somewhere, waiting? Already there, jubilant? So many streets still to walk; I keep my nickel in my pocket and move on.
Ugh! The winter cold, the awfulness of world events, Trump’s despicable appointees; it’s all too much. How can we find relief? I attended an AIDS conference in the 80s where the keynote speaker was a ‘laughter’ therapist. The audience was bored as she presented slides comparing the musculature of crying and laughing and the chemistry of tears.
We sat and rolled our eyes; really? This was too California, even for those of us who lived here. She asked if someone with AIDS would be willing to come on stage and a thin young man joined her. She began to ask him questions and requested, at the end of each answer, that he add the words, “Tee hee.”
We all crossed our arms; it was SO inappropriate! “I’m afraid I won’t live to see my twenty-ninth birthday . . . tee hee.” “I’m so lonely, my lesions scare people off . . . tee hee.” He smiled after that one and continued his sad litany, followed by, “Tee hees,” and then began to laugh. I fought my laughter back until he said, “I had to give my sweet kitten away . . . tee hee!” The therapist asked the kitten’s name. “Little Polly,” he said, “Tee hee,” and started laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe and then the audience burst into laughter too.
It was all so appalling and so terribly funny, hundreds of us laughing with him about the dreadful things he was sharing. I never had so many tears in public or hugged so many people afterwards.
I read that Obama’s last press conference is happening right now so I pick up the television remote for the first time in 38 days. He looks good, he looks like my President, he looks like the man I didn’t always agree with but did respect. I feel like he respected me. His words are smart and he walks the line to not attack Trump but acknowledge our concerns and doubts. He will be gone soon and I feel a sharp pain in my chest. “Ow!”
I know a wonderful woman who has a disease that causes her a lot of pain. When she gets up, when she sits down, when she lies still, whenever she tries to move. “Ow,” she says. “Ow,” but then quickly she adds, “Wow.”
I asked her once why she did that: “Ow,” followed by “Wow.” It hurts to move she says (“Ow!”), but the pain reminds me that I am alive (“Wow!”) I thank her for this spell. Obama has finished and I turn the television off. I sit in front of the darkened screen. “Ow,” I say. “Wow.” “Ow, wow, ow, wow.”
When phone calls and petitions and donations and smart reading and heated conversations about all things Trump-related don’t feel like enough to tip the scales, add magic to the mix. I’ve been looking for signs, portents and items to work with. We’ve been cleaning out decades of junk from our deep dark basement and found this.
We stood on the street and examined it. Handmade wooden handle, 5 inches long. Metal end, 3 inches wide. We turned it over and over in our hands. One end to cut with? The other to hammer? A tiny meat cleaver? A vegetable cutter? A man who collects old tools passed by. “Look what you’ve found,” he said.
We told him it was something that was used in the kitchen to prep food, we told him it was something from the long ago past, we said we don’t know what it is, we said it was a mystery. He held it in his hands. “It’s a key,” he said.
Tomorrow the Electoral College votes; will they follow their conscience and cast Donald out? Some say, “Impossible!” others, “Our only chance!” Some believe it can happen, others won’t go there. Most agree it will take a miracle.
My father fought in World War II, was in the Battle of the Bulge, operated a tank, saw terrible things he never talked about. We rarely heard a wartime story, but he did tell us one, over and over, of the morning he watched several thousand paratroopers float down through early light, right before a major battle.
One parachute didn’t open and the poor man’s arms and legs flailed all the way down. Just before he hit the earth, my father closed his eyes. When he opened them, he saw the soldier climbing out of a massive haystack that sat in a French farmyard; he brushed his uniform off and then ran to join his comrades.
My father said they all went on to win the battle that day. Miracles happen, over and over and over again and if we don’t get one tomorrow, we still need to remember that.