The week has arrived. A dude you would most definitely cross the street to avoid were you to see his canary-yellow pouf of candy floss shuffling down the sidewalk toward you, a dude whose damp and tiny fingers are at this very moment typing 140 characters of hateful nonsense that just might get us all killed, a dude who is the reason that women’s self-defense classes — and the ACLU — exist, is about to become our nation’s president. It’s real, you’re awake, let the sweet sounds of Toby Keith’s voice wash over you.
Lately, when I haven’t been weeping along with the various farewell tear-fests of my two cool dads Barack and Joe, or wondering how Jeff Sessions came to look exactly like the Keebler elf, or making phone calls to the tired young staffers of politicians I hate (I NEVER want to hear Paul Ryan’s recorded voicemail options again as long as I live), I have been trying to figure out how we’re all making it through. Staying informed is important, activism is important, but so are self-care and joy. And finding healthy outlets for our anger, grief, and fear.
Leading up to this dreaded week, I’ve been asking everyone ± my family, my closest friends, acquaintances I barely know, sometimes strangers: How are you surviving this? And I’ve been hearing some beautiful things.
We are hitting things with our fists, in gyms and boxing rings. We are strapping on our sneakers and literally running away from it. We are trying to stay present and calm in our yoga classes and on long hikes away from the noise, in the beautiful wild places we still have. Some friends have quit drinking, some have begun to let go of their guilt or anxiety around food, and some have committed to actually rest when they’re tired for a change. We are showing our bodies the care and respect that our new president sure won’t.
We’re connecting. I have one friend who never smiled or made eye contact with strangers on public transit before the election, not because she’s some kind of misanthropic loner, but because it’s just not what you DO in the city. Now she shares her umbrella, she gives compliments, she has conversations. She no longers pretends not to see the other human beings all around her. Every morning on her commute, she’s making her little corner of the country warmer and kinder, something we all desperately need at this particular moment in time. When I march in Washington this weekend, I know I will see women reaching out to one another in love, solidarity or just, you know, common human decency and a shared recognition that we are all on this little life-raft of resistance together.
We are throwing ourselves into our work. Or our art. Or volunteering. Or raising our children. Something that demands your complete and total attention keeps you in a given moment — and away from Twitter! — and can be such a healthy focal point in a chaotic time. The things that keep us focused and give us energy (and okay, sometimes exhaust us so that we can fall right to sleep with no anxiety-spiraling at the end of a day) are the brightly-lit paths in the darkness.
We’re taking less shit. A lot of women have noticed their patience, and their tolerance of Trump-y behavior, growing thinner and thinner since November. We’re calling out the casual racism, the transphobia, the microagressions, the stupidity. An acquaintance told me that just in the weeks since the election, “I have reported a dude at work for sexual harassment, physically put myself between two dudes who were harassing a girl on a train platform, told dudes to f*ck off when they tried to holler at me in a bodega or on the street.” I’ve also seen an increasing number of people in my life speaking up more and more, giving voice to their anger and their right to exist in their own spaces, and each time it happens my broken heart grows a new pair of bright little wings.
We’re loving more, and better. This one needs no explanation, and it’s the one that’s really going to save us.
Happy Inauguration Week, everybody. We've survived 100% of the days leading up to this one, and chances are, we will survive Friday too.
Top photo: Shepard Fairey/Amplifier Foundation
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Hannah Matthews is a musician, photographer, artist, and sometimes-writer living in New England. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in musicology and a whole lot of feminist rage. You can usually find her in the woods with her dog, or in her kitchen baking a pie, or at email@example.com