I live in a rural Ohio township in a county that’s resoundingly conservative. The last few months it has bristled with Trump signs. Some of them are huge. Some handmade. Many farms and businesses have sported dozens of signs that haven’t yet come down. I acknowledge their passion, although it’s beyond my comprehension.
When we first moved here I was told to avoid putting up Halloween decorations, since that would mark me as on the side of Satan. When I displayed homemade yard art, our postal carrier asked if we were devil worshipers. Just admitting we weren’t the correct brand of born again Christian resulted in a de facto death threat.
Still, we’ve stayed. Heck yeah. We planted fruit and nut trees, along with raspberries, asparagus, and other perennials. We built barns and fenced pastures. We intend to live here until we’re so damn old that we can’t feed livestock or can our harvest or take a daily walk. If nothing else, we’re resilient.
Years ago I visited Portland Maine to see a friend. It was a delicious shock to my keep-your-opinions-quiet life. From bumper stickers to storefronts it seemed everyone was wildly progressive. I’d avoided broadcasting my planet-friendly politics, beyond-denomination spiritual beliefs, and sustainable lifestyle, only to realize there were actually places where such things were de rigueur. There are all sorts of closets.
I find hope wherever I can, especially in a house I pass each week on my trip to the library, where signs for polar opposite sports teams and political parties are posted on the same lawn, in front of the same house, where the same couple presumably shares the same couch, toilet, and bed. If they can do it successfully, so can a nation.
The only place I feel free to be myself out loud, politically and otherwise beyond my own small circle of family and friends, is on social media. When I post on my natural learning page I steer well clear of potentially inflammatory opinions out of respect for other people’s beliefs, but when I post on my own Twitter and FB pages I share ideas and reflections that are interesting to me. Mostly it’s hopeful but the last few days my posts have been raw, fearful, and unsure —- the way humans beings can be in times of flux.
Such posts may have cost me one of my dearest friends, someone my family and I love.
Since the election I’ve felt battered and bruised, barely able to pull up my optimism pants. And I am saddened beyond words that being who I am may mean losing people I love. I hope that’s not what coming out means. If this is what it’s like, even for a political stance, I can’t imagine what it feels like to come out when the issue is much larger and much more personal.
This is what I’m hanging on to — that spring always comes no matter how cold the winter.