Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hindsight is 20/20

Exactly one week ago, Eliot and I were innocently going to the Maine Mall to have our eye appointments.  I'd been putting it off for far too long- first because of our crazy travel schedule at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, and then because of the coronavirus.  I'm desperately in need of new glasses.  With the NHL season starting today, I knew it was time to go get my eyes checked.  (This past season, I had a hard time distinguishing the players' numbers and the puck was pretty much non-existent.)

January 6th was a quiet winter day.  Eliot got up and went to work early so he could take time off in the afternoon for our eye appointments.  I drove into town and met him at the park and ride so we could ride up to Portland together.  Aside from the extra precautions and procedures due to the coronavirus, everything was pretty normal.

I was scheduled to go in first, and just as I suspected, I definitely needed a stronger prescription.  I left the appointment feeling good about getting that checked off of my to do list.  Eliot went in after me while I sat in the waiting room.  I ended up talking with another lady in the waiting room while she waited for her appointment.  She was retired and since I work from home, it was a perfect way to get some human interaction after being isolated for so long.  We talked about the pandemic and joked about Eliot getting cookies while I was in my appointment.  We also talked about how volatile people have become online and how we wished people would be civil to one another again.  A few minutes later, she was called into her appointment and Eliot was finished.  We parted ways and I left feeling good- like I wasn't the only one longing for a return to kindness.

Meanwhile, as I was engaged in a kind, honest, civil and respectful conversation with a complete stranger, all hell was breaking loose in our nation's capital.

We left the eye doctor and walked back to our car.  Once settled, Eliot took his phone out to start our online Chipotle order and he was greeted with news of the riots.  He started to read the article, but neither of us had realized how bad it was.  We both assumed that things could get heated, so at the time it didn't alarm me.  We ordered our food and I drove us over to the restaurant.  Eliot went into Chipotle to wait for our order, while I sat in the car and opened up my Facebook newsfeed.  And that's the moment when I realized what was actually happening.

I was greeted with numerous status messages from friends who were enraged about the events unfolding in Washington.  Friends were saying that if you were ok with what was happening in D.C., that you should unfriend them.  I immediately knew things were bad and it was all overwhelming.  I desperately searched for answers.  Since Eliot and I were still out, I wasn't really aware of the extent.  Eventually, one of our friends shared a link to a live NBC News video of the coverage.  It all came into focus quickly.  There were civilians on the floor of the house.  The Capitol building had been breached.

Eliot came back to the car and I told him what was happening.  We watched the video for a few minutes before eating our lunch.  After, we talked about it on the way back to the park and ride.  Both of us were unsettled, but neither of us knew the depths of what had happened.  I dropped him off at his car so he could go back to work for a few more hours.  Then, I immediately called my mother to get more information.  I knew she would have the television on and know what was going on.

As my mother gave me the overview of how everything unfolded, I could tell how angry she was.  I grew increasingly angry as she recounted the days' events.  We spoke for most of my ride home.  As soon as I entered our house, I immediately turned the television on and settled into the couch to soak in as much information as I could.  I was glued to the tv all evening as I tried to digest what happened in our country.

As the days since have unfolded, I've watched in horror as I've learned new details of the riots in the Capitol.  There were bombs planted, guns were inside of a restricted area, a noose was erected, people were wearing Auschwitz shirts, rioters beat police officers, the Confederate flag was inside of the Capitol building and multiple people died.  This makes me sick to my stomach.  How is this the America that I know and love?  How could this possibly happen here? 

This event has hurt me to my core.  I long for the country that I know and love.  I wish I still had faith in the American Dream.  Right now, all I see is hate.  I'm hurt, and I'm scared.  I've been afraid to say anything.  Eliot and I have friends and family on both sides of the aisle.  After last week, I'm afraid to say anything political to anyone other than my immediate family.  (And that doesn't matter since we're all in agreement about everything.)  Just yesterday, one of Eliot's work colleagues made a joke about Jews and he didn't even realize that Eliot is Jewish.  Some people are so blinded by hate that they've forgotten that these people are their neighbors, family and friends.  There were people in the Capitol riots wearing Auschwitz shirts.  At this point in time, I am literally afraid for our safety... so I've sat in silence until now.

The fact that this unfolded while Eliot and I were having our eyes checked was not lost on me.  The saying "hindsight is 20/20" has been on my mind a lot after the tumultuous year we just put in.  After 2020, a lot of things have come into focus for me.  You can't deny that hindsight is 20/20- perfect vision- and you can see the seeds of hatred that have been growing in our country for years.  All last year, you could feel the tension across the country growing.  After we appeared to come together to face the COVID-19 pandemic, we turned against each other just as quickly.  Even wearing a mask became political.  Now that this act of violence has happened, I can't say that I didn't see it coming.  I mean... didn't we all see it, and feel it, coming?

Now, it's a week later.  After endless days of watching way too much news, the House of Representatives officially impeached the president this afternoon at 4:22 pm.  I took in the news as I was making myself some candy apple slices- a recipe that I'd seen online that reminded me of my favorite Disney treat.  How I've longed for the magic I find at Walt Disney World and Disneyland this past week.  They're my happy places amid a world of chaos.  Somehow, those little candy apple slices of caramel, chocolate and rainbow sprinkles gave me comfort in this turbulent time.

Looking ahead, we have one more week until Inauguration Day.  I've been looking forward to that day with a renewed sense of hope.  I long for unity in our country, although, I fear that it is going to take a long time for that to happen... if it ever does.  I want us to be the role model of democracy.  I want us to be the land of the American Dream.  I want us to be the beacon of hope that we've become to so many across the world.  I want us to live up to that expectation.  We're supposed to be the "greatest" country in the world, and I really wish we'd act like it.  We're better than this.

As we move forward from the horrific events that unfolded on January 6th, and as we try to reconcile the divide in our country, I keep coming back to the same thought.  My one and only hope for our country is that we all remember how to be kind- both to ourselves and to each other.  The world needs more kindness.  °o°

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