I miss the Romance of European cities. Maybe more than the cities themselves.
I miss Paris and Amsterdam and Berlin. I don’t miss them in the same way I miss London because they were never home.
I miss these other cities in a superficial way. I miss the foreign languages and the new food, the museums and the history. I miss Paris’ light in the winter and Amsterdam’s bicycles and Berlin’s pockmarked walls. I miss thrift stores that are cramped and old and full of unusual silhouettes. I miss the monuments.
I miss the way I felt, exploring new places, tasting stories. I even miss being annoyed at my parents in the way only traveling creates. I miss drinking champagne and eating artisanal truffles on my sixteenth birthday.
I miss walking ancient streets, noticing the sunlight in a new way. The light is different in every city.
I’m romanticizing; Paris is dirty and Amsterdam is sinking and Berlin is crumbling. But I drew and I walked and I wrote.
I miss the cities I see in photographs. In an intimate but distant way. It is not an ache, it’s only a twinge, but it runs through the roots I grew halfway across the globe.
The monuments,the light,the museums,the ancient streets,the creating,and the history.
I went to bed last night before results had been posted. I went to bed with a little bit of hope, kept alight by disbelief in what the polls were clearly beginning to show. I woke up this morning with devastation in my heart. I stayed in bed for over an hour, crying with my covers pulled up to my chin. I felt the disbelief and fear that I see on the faces of neighbors, family and peers. My feelings today are comparable only to the feelings I had after the tragic shooting in Orlando. And, as I did after that event earlier this year, I combatted my feelings with creativity.
Every Wednesday, I am lucky enough to work through a company that teaches arts and craft classes to elementary schoolers. In this class, I have seventeen wonderful young girls. Today I could only think about them. Because they didn’t get to see a woman break the ultimate glass ceiling in America this morning. Instead, they saw a man who is the epitome of a schoolyard bully be given the highest title the United States has to offer. These bright girls have so much growing that will be done over the next four years, with some of them even starting high school as the next four years come to a close. As of this moment, it’s difficult to say how much will really change. But the election of Donald Trump into office, coupled with the steadily declining state of the environment, doesn’t leave me with much hope. These girls are smart, funny and excited. They’re eager to make something new. One of them told me that even though she isn’t very good at art, even though artistic abilities don’t “run in her family,” she still loves to create. I am mostly worried because they are girls, and some of them are girls of color. They aren’t yet aware of what either of those things might mean for them in the future, and I worry about how soon they may have to become aware. If I have these feelings of fear for a group of girls I have only known for a few months, I can barely imagine how parents are feeling today.
I decided that today was going to be full of the little things that bring me joy. I realized a few minutes into writing this that all those little things are creative. I taught a class a lesson on Native American culture and the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day before painting canvases with images of thunder birds. I came home and sang to myself, just playing through the songs I’ve memorized on guitar and ukulele. After dinner I made two batches of double chocolate cookies and danced to Frank Sinatra. Many people went to rallies, all across the country. They are wonderful and brave and strong for that. What I did today was insignificant in a big picture way. But I feel a little better eating cookie dough and listening to Fly Me To the Moon. And I feel better after writing down my thoughts here, preparing to share them with my small slice of the world.
Despite my efforts, I’m still crying.