by Caroline Donnola
having brunch with a friend
on an oddly warm and sunny
a major treat in Covid time—
we hear cheering and horns honking
and we know what this must mean—
Biden has won.
We walk the streets back to my car
and there is singing and dancing
and celebrating in this very liberal neighborhood.
And while I am relieved by the results
I don’t feel happy or celebratory.
Instead, I feel almost numb.
For me, this is not the beginning
of things getting better.
We’ve simply turned a new page
in a volatile chapter
of a flawed and outdated story.
Fifteen minutes later
I’m back in my neighborhood.
My district went for Trump—
an anomaly in New York City—
though it was a close call.
I drive around and around
and then walk the streets
to drink in the mood.
The almost-half who went for Biden
must be celebrating indoors.
I breathe a sigh of relief.
The others—who may be angry, upset, disappointed—
hide their response as well.
There are no public displays of emotion
in this neighborhood
that is more like Middle America
than like New York,
although the mixture of ethnicities
would make this place an anomaly
in Middle America.
Somehow I am most comfortable
in places that don’t quite fit.
I am neither fish nor fowl.
I’m an independent.
I can’t celebrate half the country
Perhaps I would feel better
if I could share that sense of victory.
But I can’t.
are going down a different road.
One that has to include,
if not everyone,
then at least the vast majority.
Yes, it’s a longshot.
Hell, we don’t even know where this road leads.
Who would travel such a road?
Those of us who simply cannot accept
this either-or, in-or-out, winner-loser
way of things.
Will there ever be a time
when the whole country
can celebrate together?
I would love to be part of that rejoicing—
to spill out into the streets,
to sing and dance
and relish our coming together
I doubt I’ll live to see it,
but I’m still trekking down that road
and finding comfort
in those—in big numbers and small—
who walk along this other path
with firm and steady steps
day by day.