Love in the Time of POTUS 45

by Jaz Persing 2 years ago in humanity

How's your apocalypse going?

Love in the Time of POTUS 45

I’m drinking champagne alone in the Broadway Bar on the night of the Women’s March on Washington. I just left the Orpheum, where the Literary Death Match poets and readers declared hopes for daughters and tribute to mothers—and you could feel as much in the audience as on the streets of Downtown LA tonight that we’re all still flying high, giddy with celebration even though we know there’s a long four years ahead. But we’re not ready to let hope fade yet—people are still carrying their signs, and they’re wearing their homemade pussy hats, and I still haven’t changed my clothes.

I missed the boat tonight, where the real party’s at, but this unscheduled quiet isn’t unwelcome, because there’s something else hanging in the air. Something that I haven’t been able to shake the last few days. Something that’s making the Saturday nightlife fade into a dull roar around me... I’m carrying a separate loss, a separate sadness with me, apart from the pain of our nation, our world.

Because while the country loses so much and worries they will lose more, I have lost you.

You plural.

As in two.

A friend. A lover. In cruelly quick succession.

You two, who on so many occasions commiserated with me about this end of the world, these near-dystopian times. I thought we would always be able to turn to each other, eyes wide, heads shaking, as the harrowing events scroll on, but now the radio has gone silent on both channels. And maybe it’s dead altogether. And now that I can’t get a message through the airwaves, all I want to ask is, even if it’s only here—

How’s your apocalypse going?

How do you cope with the orange toad who swallowed up our favorite family of Firsts? Do you watch the highlight reels, the goodbyes, the life of Joe Biden that I appreciated far too late? Do you cry like I do, like someone opened a faucet we’ll never been able to shut it off?

Did you watch the inauguration shrouded in darkness and storm, and find it all a bit on the nose? Or did you sleep in like I did, hoping as always that the world would have changed upon waking. But still I wake, and the world is so much that I lie there every morning, paralyzed by the prospect of overcoming, for almost an hour.

How’s your apocalypse going?

How did you begin to bear it when Carrie Fisher died? She was so much like us and not at all. I miss her gravelly voice in my car radio, from so many books, so much life, that was already helping me get over you and past you when I heard about the heart attack and gripped the wheel. And then we lost Debbie, too. And still I wanted to grieve with you, you my plural lost ones.

What do you fear you’ll lose on the road ahead? Health, family, freedom of speech, the concept of truth, respect for yourself? Our very well-being? But how well are we being, to begin with? And are you… well? Without me?

How’s your apocalypse going?

Did it mean anything to you when Good Girls Revolt ended? Did it strike you as dark and cruel and strange? Did you feel my heart breaking from whatever far-off place you were standing?

Do you start to feel like nothing makes sense anymore? Does life feel like the same large fictional play to you that I’m starting to recognize, to loathe? Does it feel like a cruel joke to crush a spirit just starting to grow?

But my friend, you still make the old jokes that come from chains. And my lover, you’ve been tired a long time.

I always fall in love in major election years. For Obama’s 2008 victory, I was a shiny-eyed teen drunk on hope and change and “Yes We Can!”—so drunk I didn’t notice my boyfriend was gay. But we grew older and wiser and learned to see each other better.

Eight years later and I’m numbing myself. I’m resigning myself. And I constructed a crossroads before me:

A woman I hope I can trust, a history-making, bold choice to fly in the face of the establishment—unless she’s more the establishment than I ever realized.

An alcoholic, unhealthy escape route of a man who will never be qualified for the job.

This is love in the time of POTUS 45. The president I can only refer to with air quotes around his title now real.

How’s your apocalypse going?

To my friend—the mermaid once mine.

I know you must hate the state of things too, though your voice has faded from my life completely. All but for the echoes of your once-hope for us: “I wish I could take both of our loneliness and light it on fire.” How different the place I stand in the apocalypse today—loneliness everywhere, and so much of my fire gone out.

I thought we’d be burning down the barricades together, soot smudging a new shape to our smiles, wild hope in our browns and blues. But you were all talk and t-shirts—you just liked how the gas mask brought out your lowlights, how your legs looked in riot gear. I guess you swim in shallower water than you think.

Then one day, I looked away too long, and you fell asleep. I laid out all my plans and schemes, but you skipped town, made some deal with the Empire, the people who keep all our ocean of beautiful mess under the rug.

I thought that didn’t happen with sisters in the rebellion. Or at least—I thought that didn’t happen with you. Just like I never thought America would fit this far down the rabbit hole.

But I already lost Princess Leia, so I wasn’t going to blow up the Death Star alone.

How’s your apocalypse going?

To my lover—my smoky, mercenary scoundrel.

You cannot be reached. You cannot be called into your X-wing at a moment’s notice. But then I lose my backup, and you swoop in to my rescue with whiskey and wine. And I lose myself in a galaxy far, far away from traitors, loyalists—I lose myself in your disaffected rant with no end.

But how erotic your indignance, your dissatisfaction that devolves with alcohol. And then, with the magic of my silence, of my wryer smile, I am the wiser one. I am the all-knowing and mysterious one for the night.

And then we’re two rebels, above all this bullshit and betrayal. I teach you about gender pronouns I learned, and what it was to stand on a soapbox, and how it felt to have my feelings evaluated by committee before me. You tell me your war stories from the other side of the world’s glass, against which my nose is ever-pressed. You tell me about your kid, and the things in his stocking four sizes too big. You tell me about the kid you were for not long enough. I drink it all in like the cheap wine we split—dizzy now, sick later.

But hey—we’re standing at the end of the world, aren’t we? It’s the end of the world, so why be alone? It’s the end of the world, so we barricade in your shelter, distracting ourselves with smoke-filled kisses and coffee in stolen mugs and telling you all my old ghosts—still pretending you’re not becoming one even as we laugh at Ted Danson’s pitch-perfect delivery. I’m already fading for you, even as you hold me tight, refusing to let me leave—but we both know who chose that.

How’s your apocalypse going?

My lungs want to give out from how much I’m talking. I am talking and talking and saying everything and nothing, because everything is dire now, so it’s as good a time as any to dip my protest sign in blood and paint over where you both left wounds much more ordinary. I don’t want to be heartbroken. I want to be a revolutionary.

The stain of my cheap dark wash bell-bottoms seeps into suede tan boots caked with mud, and I’ve stopped feeling my feet hurt. Or maybe it’s just that these days, I like it when my feet hurt. I like it when my endorphins from running drown out that you were both running from me, maybe always. Maybe from the beginning.

How’s your apocalypse going?

I thought we would spend it all together as the world went down in flames. I lost a sister in arms. I lost a drowning buddy.

But even today, even in this bar alone, something is different.

Because today I walked until I couldn’t with 750,000 women, men, and children who comforted each other in love, who raised their voices—in protest, in strength, in hope of a better world.

I stood in the same place where I took your hand because I couldn’t stand up straight on the ice without you.

Today that ice had melted, and I walked strong with my brothers and sisters.

I walked through the same streets you guided me by the hand, because I didn’t know how to take the subway, I didn’t know where I was going without you.

I knew where I was going today. Forward.

Because when you see this much hope, you can’t help but believe that the world will never burn at all, except to take all our loneliness and light it on fire. This time for real. I want that for us.

This world isn’t going down without a fight. And neither am I. And tomorrow’s already hard, and I’m stepping back and needing to rest, and to grieve, but I’m still fighting. And I’m not alone. Never.

So I must go on differently now, because there is too much love to be won over hate, and I’ve seen it inside myself to do things I never thought possible. No more terror of my own feelings, of my own power, of the risk of bruising that accompanies real love.

How’s your apocalypse going?

I don’t know. But mine is for damned sure coming to an end. Cheers.

Jaz Persing
Jaz Persing
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Jaz Persing

Jaz Persing is a writer, singer, and human living in Los Angeles. She works in television when she can. The rest of the time she's just looking for a dare-to-be-great situation, and trying to put a good dent in the world along the way.

See all posts by Jaz Persing