Putting Back the Pieces
It’s Thursday night.
I’m half-watching the Panthers vs. Saints ‘Thursday Night Football’ game, half-listening to podcasts and music I’ve missed the past week or so. We are a little over a week and a half past the results of the 2016 election that left me in a shocked, yet not shocked, existential crisis. Honestly, today is the first real day I woke up with some actual cap space in my brain that wasn’t overwhelmed by the thousands of thoughts I’ve been having regarding a post-Trump America. To be honest, again, today was also the first day that I didn’t wake up with a very delicate sense of being and emotion since last Tuesday.
Nine days. That’s roughly the same amount of time it took me to “get over” my last real breakup… I think… I can’t remember… Which might be foreshadowing the way I will feel a few months after Trump is officially inaugurated into the Oval Office of the White House, but another part of me hopes it’s not. I don’t want to forget the way I feel I’ve felt the past nine days. I don’t want to forget the bottomless pit I felt at the bottom of my stomach when I woke up Wednesday morning after I realized that what I witnessed the night before was not a dream but was, in fact, a very real reality.
I took a break from social media for a few days last week and some of this week. I could feel my head quickly beginning to feel like the cartoon version of TNT after Wile E. Coyote would light the fuse to, at last, kill Roadrunner, but not before something would inevitably go wrong and, in turn, kill Wile E. The amount of discussion quite literally had me ready to throw my phone across the room before I remember I hadn’t bought insurance for my phone, which only led to me compartmentalizing my anger and frustration before running out of compartments. So, yeah, no social media. I will say, though, it felt great to be away and sort of reminded me of my teenage years when you had to ride your bike around the block to see if any of your friends were home.
The days away from my phone, though, only led to days of discussions amongst myself. Asking myself dozens of questions, like, “How does something like this happened? How does this impact my friends? How does this impact me? Have I been duped all along? Am I the one that’s wrong?” I didn’t walk away with many answers but I didn’t beat myself up too much about that; it’s still early and there will be time for answers soon enough. I did, however, have plenty of ideas, while also “coming back to reality” with a new sense of determination to find, not only, the answers to the questions I asked myself but also to have the answers for others that may be asking themselves the same questions. It’s going to take some time and a lot of us will have to go through all the motions of grief, and frustration, and anger, and madness, but there will be answers at the end of it all. I, at the very least, remain optimistic of that.
I spent most of last week in a daze that consisted of me staring at the various walls in my home followed by random moments of tears that seemingly happened at the snap of a finger. Thursday, I started to venture out into a few other emotions (anger and frustration, mostly) but still ended the day with a queasy feeling in my stomach. By Friday, I had finally had enough and felt like I was stuck inside an insane asylum and decided to go for a run. I stopped a few miles away, not knowing how far I had actually ran, only to find myself a block away from the same coffee shop I stopped at immediately after I voted last Tuesday. I walked into that coffee shop not nearly as confident as I had last Tuesday; instead, I walked in with a sense like I was returning to the scene of a crime. A few more emotions seeped out as I walked back home but I also noticed an eerie silence that I had never noticed before. The sound of kids playing outside and the cars zooming by usually provide their own soundtrack when I don’t have my headphones with me but today all I could hear was the wind and the leaves as they swept along the sidewalk. It was somewhat odd, somewhat strange, but, also, peaceful. Almost like even Mother Nature said, “I need a timeout, too, y’all.” That’s when I realized it was time for recovery. It was time to put back the pieces.
Saturday would be the start of that process as a day filled with college football was a pleasant distraction from pretty much everything. I was also eagerly looking forward to the overly-anticipated return of Dave Chappelle to network television alongside A Tribe Called Quest on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ The high school version of me was on the edge of an anxious fritz and my eagerness did not disappoint. I can’t convey into exact words what Dave Chappelle was able to do during his opening monologue of SNL, I guess, the easiest to way to put it is that it felt like Dave was bringing all of us in for a group hug and a few, much needed, pats on the back.
I woke up Sunday morning with the first real sense of energy that I felt all week and even made an effort to make my way to the gym. In a sense, I suppose I wanted to sweat out all of the negative energy that I compiled over the past week but I also wanted to completely exert and rid myself of whatever was leftover, because I dearly wanted to regain some sort of cap space in my head and I did just that. I spent the rest of the day listening to the new Bon Iver album (22, A Million) as it pretty much a direct representation of where my head had been that following week; organized chaos and beautiful destruction. I ended the day with episodes of Parks and Recreation I couldn’t remember if I had already watched or not. Even though I was completely sick of politics at that point, Parks and Recreation was somehow able to say, “You know, it’s not always like this.”
Monday was spent catching up on some work, while I also listened to the new xx song ‘On Hold’ on repeat for hours on end (some of you know the feeling, don’t act like I’m the only one). I’m a huge fan of The xx, unbeknownst to many of you, I presume, so, seeing the first new song from them in years was pretty much a gift. Who was I to know that lyrics like, “When does it stop, when does it stop…you’ve got my back, you’ve got my back,” would give me a sense of relief. It almost felt like the universe was giving me these gifts to say, “Don’t worry, we expected this.”
I completely forgot about the new ATCQ album over the weekend so I dedicated my entire Tuesday to listening to ‘We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service’ on the “good headphones” and that may have been the most necessary of all. Songs like ‘The Space Program’ and ‘We The People…’ and ‘Dis Generation’ were somehow able to magnificently illustrate my thoughts, despite the album being recorded months before. Again, the high school version of me was doing somersaults and cartwheels on the inside, while I nodded my head and remained focused on the outside. I slowly began to feel “more like myself” while I listened to the album. It was a beautiful day when I woke up Wednesday morning, a perfect day to go back and re-listen to Leon Bridges’ album “Coming Home.” I don’t know exactly what it is about that album that makes me as happy as it does, but I could literally sit on my porch and sing along to that album at the top of my lungs without a single care in the world. While I didn’t do that, at all, I did start my day drinking my morning coffee on the porch and watch the dog-walkers as they passed by, though some of them may have caught me in the moment of a few of the songs (‘Pull Away’ in particular).
Look, I don’t know what needs to be done right now. I don’t know what should be done moving forward. I do know that some of us have felt this overwhelming sense of pain, and frustration, and anxiety after the events that unfolded Tuesday night and some of us are still having a hard time grasping the gravity of those moments. I want to be the first to tell you, “That’s okay.” It took me nine days to finally feel “normal” so I should be the first one to tell you to take all the time you need to put yourself at ease in order to move forward. If you are still having a hard time, however, maybe you can take a few of the things I mentioned above and implement them into your day, or week, or month. Maybe you already have and still feel like the world has suddenly turned upside down. I promise, that’s okay, too. However, whenever you are ready, whenever you have given yourself the proper “system reset” that it needed, there is work to be done. I, myself, am not too sure what a “post-Trump America” means for many of us but if what’s needed is a resistance to many of the things Donald Trump is considering for this country, consider myself part of the resistance.