That’s phrase comes into my head and I grab my beaten copy of Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. I am well aware how horrifically pretentious that sounds, but it’s the only book of poetry I ever bought. It is ten years old, chewed on by dogs, thrown in countless moving boxes across America, and somehow made it to this nightstand in upstate New York. I pick it up.
It feels familiar and dishonest in my hands. I bought it to impress a guy right after college. A guy in the “real world” of desk jobs and 401k plans. I don’t think I wanted him as much as I wanted to intellectually excite him. I never read any of the love poems, anyway. I’ve always been more of the Despair Type. Love is private and vulgar. By its nature it is special because it is exclusionary; a reliquary for lucky assholes. But despair is something all of us can get behind. It’s for the masses. Come and get it.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
I reread that line for the jillionth time. It’s probably my favorite thing a human has ever written. Whatever that says about me, I’ll own it, but in bed I read The Song of Despair as if it was about America. About the country I thought we were. I read it as if the relationship was the election, as if the excitement and flirtation was the hope.
Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
Hope and Force I knew intimately. I quit the 401k Desk Job Life four years ago to run this farm. I did it on impulse, thinking that was romantic or heroic. I should have planned better. You need money to run a farm and keep a house from falling apart. A lot of money and the most money I ever had to my name couldn’t buy me a gently pre-owned Volkswagen. But I’m still here. I figured out how to scrap up a living from raising livestock, freelance design, fiddle lessons, and the occasional book deal. The farm’s lights haven’t been shut off yet nor has it ever been foreclosed. (There have been threats of both.) I’m always broke. I’m never bored. I am usually happy.
I created this life as a single woman. I built this blog and community over a decade as a single woman. I published all my books as a single woman. I bought my house and my vehicles as a single woman. I learned to hunt, cook, and grow vegetables as a single woman. I earned my black belt as a single woman. I learned to shoot a bow, become a goddamn falconer, and ride a draft horse as a single woman. Yes, there was community, friends, teachers and neighbors - but I became the woman I am today without spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family. And I was certain yesterday morning I was voting for the first female president of the United States as a single woman. God forbid I’m proud about any of that. I am constantly told how selfish I am for doing any of this while not being someone's wife or mother. Accomplishments you don't share are unbecoming.
the hard cold hour in which the night fastens to all the timetables
My friends left around midnight. There was no point in staying up and we had reverted to our phones and tablets. This was supposed to be a celebration. They arrived with bottles of wine and bourbon and we hugged and whooped up at the stars, but as the numbers came in our diaphragms disintegrated. Our hearts and lungs sank into dread and the weight of that turned our party into a wake. You don’t want to raise a glass when it’s still your ceiling. The numbness came on when I saw them drive away down the road towards their home just over the state line in Vermont. The consolation our states were blue, wasn’t.
Sadness stunned you
There is just the rising chest of a border collie and the rain I can hear falling outside the open window. Occasionally I hear gunshots. I assume they are celebratory and I try to imagine what they are celebrating? My whole life felt like it was proof positive women could accomplish anything these days. That even the most unreasonable dream can be grasped if you’re stubborn and dedicated enough to claw uphill for it. I am an idiot 90% of the time and I managed this fantasy. Surely someone as smart and qualified as Mrs. Clinton could handle the tweets of a sloppy Hotelier.
But she didn’t. Not because she couldn't, but because she wasn't allowed. And I don’t feel proud, or scrappy, or capable anymore. Not on this unimaginable morning. I feel like someone turned the houselights on in the play I was in the middle of acting. And in the audience all I can see are so many angry people that do not want me on stage. How dare I even stand up there. Who do I think I am?
It is 4:54AM. Even sleep feels selfish now.