motherhood

The Gift of Exhaustion

I work from home, which happens to also be the place I live and care for my 11-month-old baby. When I first had him, people told me that newborns slept for 18 hours a day. 18 hours! I can get so much done, I’d thought. They didn’t tell me that would only be true if I held him for the entire length of time.

So I strapped him into the Ergobaby and played rain noises on my phone, and we walked around the yard till he dozed off. Then I sat at my computer and wrote with him snuggled against me. We could have an ocean in our backyard by now, with all that rain.

The Jackcific.

We live in a society where things are automated. Where we develop systems to help us do things quickly and more efficiently. My husband works in IT and loves optimizing processes. When we got married, I expected companionship, teamwork, love, but I also got organization, systems, and a label maker. We developed a schedule for dishes and bills and storing seasonal clothing.

And so, I’ve learned to automate childcare. Is that not what child-proofing is? A guarantee that you don’t, in fact, have to be watching them every single second?

We have our outlets covered and the stairs gated and we generally do our best. Jackson explores the below-knee world. Coffee tables, rugs, the bases of chairs and lamps.

But still, he demands more attention now. A fact that he alerted me to by dropping my car keys into the toilet the day after we “baby-proofed” the whole house.

I wake up every morning with a to-do list, including my work assignments, the projects I’ve assigned myself, and a litany of laundry and housework. Taking care of the baby is assumed. It never goes on the list.

But there comes a point every single day where I am too tired to watch Jackson and. I can no longer switch between cleaning and watching Jackson. Or writing and watching Jackson. Or arguing on the phone with my health insurance company and watching Jackson.

There comes a point when all I can do is watch my baby, and it feels like failure.

I read a study that said every time we switch back and forth between two tasks, we’re burning glucose, which is of course why we crave cookies when we’re multi-tasking. We think we’re saving time, but it takes inordinate energy.

I step back from my desk, slump cross-legged on the floor and roll a ball to him. He lights up. We are playing a game!

I’ve never been good at taking a sabbath, but sometimes it takes me. As suddenly and forcefully as if I’ve been blindfolded and kidnapped in the middle of my day.

Some days I read him half a story, or as much as I can manage before he wriggles out of my lap. And some days I’m so tired I just lie on the floor and let him crawl over me, and this too, he thinks, is a special delight.

It’s the moment I give up. It’s the best moment of my day.

Top image: Bekah Russom via Unsplash 

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writing

To writing more in 2018! Plus a round-up of my work from 2017.

I’m alive. So mumming took more of my time than I expected (yes, I can hear you experienced parents laughing now), but we’re sleeping through the night now (trying not to jinx anything here) and I have a little more bandwidth to write.

So here’s to posting more in 2018.

Also, I grew up in a Southern Baptist church where you didn’t just get saved once; you got saved and then rededicated your life whenever you fell off the wagon, spiritually speaking. So making bold commitments only to wander off and then find yourself right back at the beginning—well, let’s just say it’s in my cultural DNA.

And technically I wasn’t doing nothing this year. I mean, besides just raising a tiny human. Here’s a smattering of of things I got published in 2017:

-An essay about how I’m struggling to find peace with the scary new information about climate change. Hint: I haven’t fully figured this out, so if you have, please DM me. I’m serious.

-An essay about my first night on-call as a hospital chaplain, or a story in which I try to respond to a gang shooting when I can’t even find the bathrooms in the ER. If you had a strong desire to read 3,300 words of someone actively fighting off a panic attack, you’re in luck!

-A post in which I got to be my snarkiest (and therefore truest) self and defend parents from haters. It was awesome.

-A post in which I recommend a bunch of funny gifts for foodies, i.e, make fun of myself for being really pretentious about food.

motherhood

Flyover state of mind

The morning before the eclipse, all I think about is not blinding my 5-month-old baby. I drape his carrier in a blue swaddle and hustle him into my friend’s house like a body builder carrying a teetering log. I’m terrified that the cloth will slip and he’ll take a wayward, devastating glance at the sun.

Inside Emily laughs at me. “I don’t think the blinding part starts for a while. Want to watch them while I make lunch?”

“Sure,” I say and scoop up her newly mobile 7-month-old Elizabeth who’s already scooting her way toward the kitchen. Jackson whines under the mobile where I’ve laid him, and I pick him up in my other arm. He vomits on my jeans and the play mat.

“Everything in my house smells like curdled milk,” I say, putting them both down and reaching for a towel.

“I don’t even notice it anymore.”

I sit Elizabeth up and hand her a pink plastic cup. She drops it and crawls toward Jackson, reaching a damp hand into his hair and grabbing on.

Gen-tle,” I say, uncurling her fingers one at a time as Jackson screams.

A crepe sizzles in the pan.

“He’s been constipated ever since he started solids a week ago. At least I think so. What’s their poop consistency supposed to be like at this age?”

“It shouldn’t be diarrhea, but I don’t think it should be as hard as an adult’s either.”

Jackson yawns and rubs his eyes, pinkening the delicate skin of his eyelids. He takes a slow, dizzy blink. I rub his back, put him down in a pack-n-play in Emily’s spare room, listen outside the door until, finally, his cries sputter to a stop.

We grab our cardboard, opaque-lensed glasses and head out onto the porch.

Dusk descends around us. Across the street a child perches in a fruit tree and stares into the hole he’s punched in a cereal box to watch the shadows of the eclipse. He glances backward at the sun before training his eyes again like a scientist down the barrel of a microscope. Emily’s dog Archie drops a slobbery rope chew toy at my feet, looks up expectantly.

The light turns rosy, like the light in Paris at twilight. Then red, like a storm is coming.

“12 years ago, I was in astronomy class in college, and I remember wondering where I’d be in 2017,” I say.

Back then I couldn’t conceive of such an outlandish date. At the time I’d struck a deal with the green-eyed singer-songwriter who sat beside me in lecture to meet up for the eclipse.

“You’re so urbane,” he said when he saw me walking across campus in a bright red pea coat. “I’m waiting for you to figure out how powerful you are.”

I laughed. “Are you scared I’m going to realize my potential one day and leave you all in the dust?”

“Terrified.” He was serious.

I’d pictured myself waking up in a New York loft each morning and walking to a light-flooded coffee shop with my laptop. I imagined myself straightening my blazer while an announcer at a bookstore listed my achievements. “And now, our keynote . . . “ he would say.

Emily adjusts Elizabeth’s floppy white hat, shielding her face from the sun. “Josh and I were already dating back then, so he wasn’t a surprise. The baby wasn’t really a surprise. But Nashville, I didn’t see that coming. I thought it was a flyover state.”

It’s largely the way I thought about new motherhood back then. A flyover state. A time I’d wade through while waiting to get back to the important stuff.

The neighborhood goes dim and still. The lawnmower puffs to a stop, the sounds of traffic fizzle. I can hear the children across the street shout and chatter. A ring of white light halos the sun, and we take off our glasses.

Emily’s serious face goes giddy. “This is actually incredible.” Elizabeth whimpers and squirms. “I know you’re tired, Baba,” she whispers, shifting the baby on her hip. “But something amazing is happening.”

Goosebumps crawl up my arm as I watch the white corona of the sun glow. A planet twinkles nearby.

I feel brazen and wild staring directly at the sun. I think about Jackson, snoozing in the guest bedroom with my phone making fuzzy white noise. I think about how he’ll be seven when the eclipse comes again, how I’ll be thirty-seven. Another age I can’t quite imagine.

My legs start to itch, and I swat a mosquito that’s come out to enjoy the cool, dim false night. The cicadas croak.

A sliver of blinding sun appears on the right side of the moon, and I have to will myself to look away. I glance back up for just a moment and then blink away the spots.

The neighborhood brightens.

“The light is different from before the eclipse. More hopeful, somehow,” says Emily.

Inside she puts Elizabeth down in the nursery and heats up the skillet again. We eat more crepes–strawberry Nutella this time.

“I was so looking forward to being fit again after I had the baby, but” she pauses, “these are good for the soul.”

I hear a whine from the direction of the guest room.

“I think that one’s yours,” she says.

Rested Jackson is happy, flirtatious. He beams at her, his jaw hinging fully open when he laughs.

“There’s that Jackson smile,” says Emily, and I feel myself swell with pride.

I hold him by the armpits and swing him up and down, and he chuckles and coos.

I pack him into his car seat, gather all of his lovies and spit-up rags and blankets. I think about how I’ve chosen to spend my brief time on earth tending to the basic needs of this human, pouring my life into his. Changing soggy diapers, anticipating his hunger and fatigue, matching tiny socks.

On my way out the door, I stop to smell his sweet, mild head. He sighs and grins at me and reaches for my chin, eyelashes ringing his stormy eyes.

“What have a I done to deserve such a spectacular baby?” I sing to him, clicking the car seat into place. He babbles and chirps and I run a hand along his silky fine hair. But when sit in the driver’s seat and close my eyes, I still see them: spots of light, afterimages of a different dream.

 

Top image: Bryan Minear via Unsplash

motherhood

Vessel: thoughts on motherhood and the body

People kept telling me I didn’t look pregnant. At 5 months, my sister-in-law studied the slack of my shirt over my flat tummy.

“Can I touch it?”

I hesitate. “Sure.”

There’s nothing there but the slight pouch from my slouchy posture, a relic of adolescent shame about my 6’0 stature.

Taylor and I attended his high school reunion at the five month mark of my pregnancy, and I wore skinny jeans, a floral print t-shirt, and a leather jacket.

“I thought you’d be showing by now,” said one friend, giving me a vertical scan.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” I say, as if I hadn’t noticed until this very moment.

But at seven months my body bows with the pressure of a growing baby boy. My legs look tiny all of a sudden, but it’s only because they now live in the shadow of a mountain of belly, stretched out pale and taut like a drum.

I wear a sweatshirt every day that I can because I feel naked in t-shirts, the way they hug my tummy, offering a glimpse into the biological process of division and growth that feels primal and private.

Louise Erdrich writes about how she eats with her baby’s body in mind. Thinking of her tiny nascent fingernails, she eats Jello.

When I snack or cook meals, I mostly think about the moment I will step onto the cold, unforgiving metal scale at my doctor’s office.

After gaining almost no weight the first trimester, she commented that I’d gained an entire 5 pounds in one month.

“Weight gain is,” she pauses, reading the numbers, “reasonable.”

My world tilts and sways.

“And your blood pressure looks great,” she carries on, “still taking the vitamin D.”

But I’ve lost her completely.

“What do you mean ‘reasonable’?” I interrupt her.

She looks up from her computer. “We don’t usually like to see more than five pounds in one month, but you were underweight to begin with.”

I can’t hear her the rest of the appointment. I know she mentions something about childbirth classes and finding a pediatrician, but the details are lost to me. I’m a net through which all the minnows and goldfish can pass. I only catch the whale.

As a kid, a friend and I would always complain that we were fat, waiting on the reassurance of the other that we certainly were not. She was the fat one. No, I would say, am.

One night on the pull-out couch of my parents’ basement we rehearsed our roles again, spooling out the dialogue like a prayer rug bare at the knees.

This time she paused. “Some people say they’re fat just because they want people to tell them they’re skinny.”

I blinked in the darkness.

“Well,” I said, groping for an answer. “I just don’t like the word ‘skinny’. I mean, skinny. It sounds gross. Like you have too much skin or something. Like an elephant.”

I wasn’t as gifted at improvising as I was reciting a script.

But in truth, I loved the word. All the words. Slip, sliver, waif.  I loved them all. I wore them like a beauty queen’s sash resting on my neatly defined collar bones. Matchstick pants and cigarette jeans and pencil skirts.

“You’re only six months?” said my mother-in-law’s housekeeper when she saw me at a Christmas party. “You can’t hardly tell.”

The woman is as tall as me and probably outweighs me by 75 pounds. She’s carried and birthed ten children, and now presides over a small army of grand babies.

“Yeah, not yet,” I say, holding my sparkling cider. I run my fingers around its lip. “Probably soon.”

“I guess you’ll blossom all at once,” she says, smiling.

I try to start using words like this. Blossom, bloom, flower, bud.

But it’s hard to think of these words without also thinking of wilt, wither, droop, pucker, fall.

When panic grips me and I start googling celebrity mom beach bodies, I try to remember how scared I was to get married. Even in love, I wondered how much I would miss the attention of other men, gathered piecemeal in sidelong glances at the grocery store, in the lingering conversations I had with cops I worked with at the hospital.

But then I did get married. And it was like I’d been scraping dew from blades of grass my whole life because I never realized there was a river behind me.

I threw away my bucket and went to swim.

And maybe this baby will be like that too. Maybe when I put a face to the kicks and jabs, the pounds and inches, the small deprivations, I’ll be glad that he grew inside of me, stretched and molded me. Into someone more maternal and less self-involved. A bigger, better vessel for love.

Is Hollywood really the perfect example of inclusivity and racial equality that we should aspire to?
politics, social justice

A place for outsiders? Meryl Streep and Hollywood’s self-proclaimed inclusivity.

Let me first say that I love Meryl Streep as much as the next person. After all, no one else flings a skillet full of potato in the exact style of Julia Child like she does. Or channels the glacial air of Anna Wintour with such compelling ease and confidence.

But at the risk of social damnation and bodily harm, I have to say that some parts of her highly lauded Golden Globes speech rankled me.

Is Hollywood really the perfect example of inclusivity and racial equality that we should aspire to?
photo: NBC

Of course, I want to support anyone who challenges the president elect on his xenophobia, his vilification of the press, and his general bully-ness. But in trying to make her point, Meryl veered into self-deception when she extolled Hollywood as the model of diversity, a “place for outsiders and foreigners,” a golden city on a hill with a collage of different skin tones and body types.

Wait, we’re still talking about Hollywood, right?

Meryl forged ahead, citing examples of “outsiders” in the room full of wealthy and beautiful Hollywood stars. I tried to suspend my doubt as she mentioned her own New Jersey upbringing.

But Sarah Jessica Parker, an outsider, because she was born in . . . Ohio?

Ryan Gosling, the attractive white male millionaire, a foreigner because he’s . . . Canadian?

Of course, a few of Meryl’s examples supported her point better than others. Viola Davis, born in a sharecropper’s cabin. Ruth Negga, born in Ethiopia and raised in Ireland.

Still, the bulk of the celebrities she mentioned were young, profoundly attractive, and privileged. While Meryl grasped at flecks of color and diversity in the glamorous crowd, I wondered, does anyone here remember the 2016 Oscars?

The year the Academy failed to nominate a single actor of color? The year Chris Rock had to serve not only as entertainer and host, but as America’s moral conscience?

The day after the Golden Globes, while a flurry of memes about Meryl’s greatness played on my social media accounts, I thought about Gabourey Sidibe, the “Precious” actor nominated for an Academy Award in 2010. I remembered Hollywood fawning over the Harlem-raised actor after her debut as the troubled, pregnant teen living with abuse and poverty. Despite her incredible talent, I worried about Sidibe and her longevity in a world where most successful women were thin and white.

I haven’t seen her at an award ceremony since.

Of course, Hollywood’s made great strides in recent years, evidenced by the success of “Moonlight” and Donald Glover’s “Atlanta,” but we have a long way to go.

“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” Streep concluded. “If you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”

But honestly, if we kicked out the true outsiders and foreigners, wouldn’t we have a place that looks largely the same?

I’m probably still going to share that meme about Meryl Streep’s immaculate poise and talent. And again, I believe with every fiber of my being that we should protect the press, freedom of speech, and the rights of the disabled.

But we’ve just elected someone who gives racists and bigots extraordinary license for their hatred, and we have us enormous battles to fight. Before we can fight those battles, we have to be honest about our shortcomings. And Hollywood is a good place to start.

grief, motherhood

Leo: snapshot of a small grief.

I was in the kitchen multi-tasking my way through an elaborate quiche recipe. I sizzled bacon, caramelized vegetables, leaned my body weight against the rolling pin as a crust began to take shape.

When I heard the doorbell, I felt a little thrill of anticipation. Maybe I was getting an early Christmas gift or a product sample for my job.

But when I opened the door, a blonde woman about my age tugged at the sleeves of her sweater and looked away.

“Hi,” I said, almost a question.

“Do you have a cat?” she said, managing to look me in the eye for a split second.

“Yeah.”

Her eyes drift down to my growing baby bump.

“I think it’s been hit by a car.”

My breath caught.

“Is–is it dead?”

“It was moving a second ago. I just had to get out of the street because this car–”

“It’s fine. Thank you for telling me,” I said and scrambled to grab my phone.

I pulled my sweater around my stomach and ran out into the yard, through the drainage ditch and into the street.

I looked in the direction she’d pointed, and there he was, 12 pounds of white fluff completely in repose.

Anyone who knows cats knows that they only sleep this way–sprawled out completely, belly exposed–when they’re safe and it’s upward of 90 degrees. Leo laid like this in the middle of the street on a November night.

He didn’t move when I ran up to him.

I stood over him and said his name. Nothing.

Kneeling in the street, I called Taylor. “Leo got hit by a car.”

“What?”

“Leo got hit by a car,” I yelled, my jaw tight and my teeth grinding through each syllable.

“Hold on, I’m almost home.”

I picked him up. Leo always had a long, slinky body that relaxed when you held him, but this time he was completely limp, like he would fall apart if I didn’t gather him together in my arms and hold on tight.

I carried him home and laid his body onto the cold concrete, leaning over to listen for a heartbeat. I smelled the same earthy, clean smell he always had, like laundry whipped dry by the wind. But I didn’t hear a thing.

I watched the headlights of Taylor’s car drive up fast. “I think he’s dead,” I said, breaking down into sobs.

Taylor leaned over his broken, velvet body and listened.

“He’s not dead,” he said, and snapped into action. “Go get a towel.”

I volunteered to drive because I couldn’t stand the thought of holding Leo all the way to the animal hospital. But his half-open eyes stared at me from out of the towel.

“Babe,” I said as gently as I could. “I think he’s gone.”

Taylor looked down at him and then back at the road.

When we approached the animal hospital, the receptionist took one look at the bundle Taylor was carrying and my tear-strewn face and picked up her phone, punching four assertive digits into the number pad.

“Triage at the front,” she said into the receiver.

Another woman walked up to us, “Is he breathing?”

“No. Hit by a car,” said Taylor.

She hesitated, but the other receptionist came from behind and took Leo’s swaddled body into her arms, running into the back. A man paying his bill at the counter kept his eyes on his paperwork.

A woman with frizzled blonde ringlets led us to a private room in the back with a leather couch and said she’d come back to update us as soon as she could.

I blew my nose and stared at a large print of a dog snatching a frisbee out of the clear blue sky.

Two minutes later the woman came back and said, “We’re doing CPR on Leo but I have to tell you I’m very concerned about his chances of recovery.”

And I think how many times I heard those lines when I worked as a chaplain in the ER, always pronounced by a doctor to someone who’s not me.

“‘I’m very concerned’ is really the best phrasing,” said one of the doctors at an ethics seminar I attended for the free sack lunch. “It communicates personal care far more than just, ‘I’m not sure,’ or ‘chances are low.'”

I wondered if vets go through the same training.

She left and I said to Taylor, “He’s gone. I thought he was gone.”

And he was.

Later, the vet techs brought out Leo’s body in a cardboard casket and we carried him to the car, its headlights still on and the keys sitting in the cup holder.

At home, Taylor snapped on a headlamp and gloves, and carried a shovel out into the backyard. I expected the ground to be dark and soft like potting soil, but the dirt was full of rocks and roots like thick ropey tendons. The hammer clanged with each heave.

I stood beside him in my puffy winter coat and cried. The trains at the nearby station screeched to a halt one after the other, their brakes a chorus of high-pitched moans.

“Goodbye, Leo,” I managed after we’d placed him in the ground, my voice breaking.

“Goodbye, buddy. We love you,” said Taylor as to scraped the scattered dirt into the grave.

I went inside and tried to pick up the reins of my three or four tasks in the kitchen, but I was slower then, dazed. I wandered from oven to stove to cutting board as if surrounded by alien machines.

I felt the baby kick, and I stopped to place a hand on my belly, listening.

When Taylor came inside his face was red and sweaty, and he dissolved in my arms. I’d never seen him sob before in the entirety of our marriage–it had always been me.

When he finished there was a wet patch the size of a fist on my sweater.

“Are you hungry?” I asked.

He sniffed. “Yeah.”

He left to shower, and I poured the cream, bacon, pear, and cheese into the pie pan. I noticed a rust-colored stain on the sleeve of my sweater as I set quiche on the metal rung of the oven.

I punched 3-5-0 into the face of the oven, pressed the start button, and I kept going.

politics

The Audacity of Need

I still remember the sinking, stones-in-the-stomach feeling that came over me when Atticus Finch lost the trial defending Tom Robinson. I’d been in bed with my covers huddled around me in the chill of my converted basement bedroom when I broke into hot salty tears and ran off to find my mother. I’d never read a story like To Kill A Mockingbird before, a story where the bad guys won. I kept waiting for Scooby Doo and Shaggy to pull off the masks of the thieves and reveal their scruffy faces, red and cowed. I couldn’t believe that moment in the story never came.

I felt the same way the night I got a notification that Donald Trump had been elected president.

Like the earth had shifted out of balance.

Like justice and goodness had taken a fatal blow to the head and would not recover.

I’d gone to bed because I was beginning to see the inevitability of a Trump win, and I could already feel myself getting physically ill. Why stay and up and watch if history wasn’t going to be made after all? But rather, the dark, corrupt underbelly of our country–the racism, sexism, and xenophobia that I thought we licked decades ago–would prevail?

I took the loss personally.

It confirmed all my deepest fears about our country. That America is a place where powerful men can violate women’s bodies and never be held accountable. That America is a place where black men like Tom Robinson are better off trying to run than face the miscarriages of justice in our system. That America is a place where refugees are no longer welcome, but feared, the statue of liberty a postcard relic of our more naive selves, signifying nothing. That America is a place where we exploit our land and animals at the expense of a future generation we don’t have the imagination to care for. A place where the LGBTQ community has not only rogue shooters in the night to fear, but their own government.

I could go on.

This past weekend I went to hear Rep. John Lewis give a lecture. A member of the the civil rights movement’s Big Six and personal friend of Martin Luther King Jr., the man led a march on Selma and had his skull fractured by a police baton, but it didn’t stop him from fighting for justice for the next 40 years of his life. I drove across town to East Nashville, a place where no one looked like me except the handful of white college students. I came because I thought that John Lewis would tell me how to fight. I came because I knew I’d gotten lost.

But John Lewis didn’t explain how to topple hatred and bigotry. He didn’t even mention the name Donald Trump. Instead, he told us about how his father was a sharecropper in Alabama and his great grandfather was a slave. He told us about nonviolence and love.

In a crisp navy suit, he told us about a 70-year-old ex-member of the Klan who’d come to his office just a few years ago to confess that he’d been the one who beat John Lewis at a sit-in years ago.

“I told him I accept your apology, and I forgive you. And he just sat in my office, and we cried.”

John Lewis told us not to give up and to stand for what we believe in, but mostly he just told us to be the Beloved Community for each other.

Lately I’ve been thinking about what that means.

I grew up in a small town in Georgia with a defunct Levi’s factory and an army of unemployed seamstresses. When I moved there with my family at the age of 6, our town had a McDonald’s and a Waffle House. No Walmart, no Burger King, and no industry to speak of, the front porch of each trailer a history of stoves, washing machines, and toys that had given out long ago, but were stuck here, just like the rest of us.

As a kid, I was always aware of the presence of poverty, although my parents never pointed to it directly or gave it a name.

“What size basketball shoes do you think Tanya wears?” my dad asked casually one night, as he, my little sister, and I wandered around Payless.

Tanya was a girl on my under-8 rec basketball team who showed up to practice every week in tattered Keds with peeling soles that split apart from the fabric when she tried to run down court.

“Tanya? I don’t know. At least five sizes smaller than Abby’s,” I said, smirking at my little sister with her long, boyish feet.

My dad rolled his eyes and then pulled out a pair of white, plasticky high-tops with pink laces, examining them with his brow furrowed the way I’d seen it every time one of us was sick with the flu.

The next week Tanya showed up at basketball practice wearing the new sneakers. We never talked about it.

When I was in my early teens, a skeletally thin man with a silver ring of hair around his bald scalp showed up at our house with his sister. He’d driven up in a beat up pick-up with his lawnmower in tow. Their electricity had been turned off, they said, and could they mow our lawn?

The audacity of that need..

In the rural South, hunger and want fight their way to the surface and demand to be noticed. And even so, you know that you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg, the nicest corner of the trailer park.

Today I live in Nashville in a neighborhood of modest ranch houses that stretch as far as the eye can see. We gather on the online community forum to sell old bunk beds, or locate our lost cats, but we keep to ourselves. I attend a church made up of people like me. My husband and I work in white collar jobs and own Macbooks. I share articles from the New York Times about Syrian refugees and the black lives matter movement on my facebook. I don’t think about the town I left. Maybe I’m the problem.

I’m beginning to understand the resentment and frustration of the Trump supporters. His victory caused me to crane an ear toward voices I haven’t listen to in years.

It’s a time to fight as much as it is a time to hear our neighbors and a time to seek forgiveness.

And maybe this is where I’ve failed. And maybe the rural poor, the old man with his lawnmower and little Tanya, these people we’ve–I’ve–failed so profoundly, maybe they can forgive me too.