Yet another ad for another t-shirt with another feminist or empowerment statement has popped up in my newsfeed, and again I find myself considering buying it. I haven't plunked down any money, because I'm not generally one for t-shirts or, for that matter, clothes shopping, but this has become an almost daily consideration. Today I wondered how my personal style would change if I actually got all those shirts and wore a different one each day. I don't know if my office would allow it, but maybe. It seems that there are enough ads to keep me in new shirts for at least half a month, and I like to think the profits support the cause. I could always throw a sweater on for work.
Today this t-shirt consideration led me to a realization that the grief many of us felt on November 9th, and have continued to feel beyond, was not only grief over the loss of our preferred candidate, our outgoing administration, our country as we saw it, or democratic values as a whole. Those are all huge. The political is very personal. Maybe moreso for some than others, depending on where we each fall on the nonlinear privilege spectrum. But everyone breathes. Everyone needs clean water.
Today, as I looked at another Superwoman graphic hashtagged with RESIST, I realized that there was another grief we have individually and collectively been feeling: the grief over the loss of who we were before. When we woke on November 9th, subconsciously but without a doubt, we must have known we would be fundamentally changed because of the election outcome. Change, the philosophers, yogis, and psychologists tell us, is the death of something. Even in the best of changing circumstances, we feel a certain amount of fear, sadness, anxiety. But this is not the best of circumstances, and the election outcome has long term implications. The country has changed, and, passive or active, we have changed with it.
Looking back on the last few months, I now see the death of us as we were. Conversations are different. Not once since the election have I sat with a friend and not talked politics. Not once has Darby and I skipped a recap of the news at the end of the day or first thing in the morning. We've all witnessed and/or experienced wonderful things in the past few months - babies, marriages, publications, travel, beauty somewhere somehow. Yet, the beauty almost seems like it's "despite." It's apparent in the things we post, buy, talk about, dream about, the way we answer the question "How are you?". Something fundamental died; something fundamental has grown in its place. Maybe we're all still adjusting to it, and reluctantly at that, just as we would with the death of anything we are not ready to let go. Who are those people who post so many negative news stories? Who are those people who wear t-shirts?