Grilled cheese, despair and the normalization of Tr*mp

(This week the Humor and Satire section is giving pause to reflect on the pain and fear caused by Trump’s election)

 

It happened that the Monday before the Tuesday that Donald Trump was elected Pres­ident was my first day of work at a fast casu­al grilled cheese restaurant. I was issued two shirts, a hat and told that I could drink fountain soda for free.

Six hours later, I drove home with a medium Coke in the cup holder of my Mercury Mys­tique. I hopped in the shower and tried, un­successfully, to scrub the smell of tomato soup from my skin.

By five in the evening, I was back in my car and heading to school. I returned home a little before 11 and knocked back a grown-up dose of liquid Benadryl. That night, I barely slept. I tossed and turned for hours, altogether unable to separate the stress of sandwich-making from that of politics.

I woke up on Tuesday morning and did it all over again, but with one significant addition—I voted. By the time I returned home Tuesday evening, it felt both certain and impossible that Donald Trump would be elected.

It’s strange and shameful to say that on that night, what I felt more than anything was tired. When I returned home from work on Wednes­day, I noticed a post on my Facebook feed. It was written by my friend, Evelyn Frick, who happens to be the Editor of the Humor section of this newspaper. She kindly offered to make this section a space for students to respond to the results of the election—the key word there being “students.”

Two things you might not know about me are that I don’t go to Vassar and that I’m not very good at following directions. Evelyn, in what I can only conclude was a lapse in good judgment, allowed a dumb, exhausted Pennsyl­vanian to write this essay anyway.

I feel fortunate to be able to work out what I’m feeling through words, especially now that I’ve had the chance to sleep and process the week that we’ve had in this country. On Fri­day, I sat in my bathtub and thought about how lucky I am to have never been taught to believe in the power of conversion therapy.

On Saturday, I looked into the eyes of a Mus­lim pediatrician and listened to her story—she does not feel safe in the only country she’s ever called home. Later that night, I watched as Kate McKinnon sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on “Saturday Night Live.” I’m writing this in bed on Sunday night and wondering if there’s a way to feel all of the things that I should be feeling.

How does one flip a grilled cheese with a heavy heart? How do I stay hopeful without ad­justing to a normal that I don’t accept? How do we combat hatred with love? We’re not okay— but I have to believe that if we can learn to hear each other, one day we will be.

Conversion therapy is a real fear for LGBTQIA individuals, particularly now that Vice President-Elect Mike Pence believes there is virtue in it. (There isn’t.) If you would like to support foundations that in turn support LGBTQIA youth, please consider donating to The Trevor Project, Point Foundation or The True Colors Fund, to name a few.

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