A letter to my president on the eve of his departure

I was just 21 when you showed up in my political periphery, and I can’t remember what it was about you that caught my attention. Your poise, perhaps? Your eloquence? Your youthful optimism? Whatever it was, it managed to make me, a one-time Fox-News-watching red-stater, cast my first vote for a Democrat.

Over the past eight years, I’ve gained boundless perspective and learned incredible empathy, and I have you, in part, to thank for it. Throughout your presidency, you have been a model of dignity, intelligence, and compassionate leadership, not only for Americans, but for the entire world.

But in spite of your immense power, you have remained truly of and for the people. You were elected to serve us, to be our greatest ally, and over the past eight years, you have done just that. From making healthcare more widely available, to championing gay rights, to protecting our natural resources, to ending the war in Iraq, the list of your achievements on our behalf goes on and on and on.

Best of all, you’ve made us laugh. Your dad jokes, your bromance with uncle Joe, your mic drop, your sheer delight at meeting baby pope—over the past eight years, you’ve brought us so much joy. And that’s why I’m so crushed to see you go.

If the last two months have been any indication, the next four years are going to be the antithesis of the Obama presidency—erratic, harsh, and devoid of levity. For that reason, I hope you’ll stay close by. We need your optimism now more than ever. We need you to remind us of what we had, and to assure us that our country will one day embrace progress, humanity, and grace again. We had it once, and we can have it back.

Yes we can.


The thirtysomething

Today I am 30. It’s been a long time coming. (Three decades, some might say.) And for most of my life, 30 has seemed like a finish line of sorts. I assumed that by the time I reached this milestone, I’d have a house at least, and maybe a kid on the way. And then I moved to Boston.

Most of my close friends here are well into their thirties. Nearly all of them still live in apartments. Many travel extensively. Almost none have kids. And it’s a revelation. Now, 30 no longer feels like the threshold of serious adulthood; 30 feels like the new 20. Except way better.

Somehow over the past 30 years, I’ve managed to grow up. I have a career now—complete with direct deposit and some honest-to-goodness professional respect. Not only that, I finally have a pretty good sense of myself. I know what I want out of my life, and I know what I’m not all that worried about.

I don’t need a big house with lots of extra space and fancy finishes: My tiny, crumbling Boston apartment was the greatest place I’ve ever lived. I don’t need a nice car: I prefer to walk wherever I can. I don’t need a house full of children: My kitty cat is cute, cuddly, and capable of feeding herself.

What I need is a quiet living space with a well-stocked kitchen. I need a job that’s fun, challenging, and fulfilling. I need a passport, a small suitcase, and easy access to an international airport.

If you’d asked me five years ago what my life would look like on my 30th birthday, I could’ve drawn you a detailed map. If you ask me today what my life will look like when I’m 35, you’ll be met with a very sincere ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Maybe I’ll have a condo in Boston. Maybe I’ll be back in school. Maybe I’ll have made it back to Africa or finally visited Chile and Argentina. Maybe I’ll have managed to move abroad. I have absolutely no idea, but I’m looking forward to spending my thirties finding out.

The terrifying transition of power

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling like I was living a nightmare. I sobbed as I was getting ready for work, and I cried again when I got there. I spent the entire day feeling dirty, guilty, and deeply ashamed. And then I sulked home and crawled into bed.

blog-quote-3This is the first time I’ve ever felt gutted by an election. But this is not a sore loser feeling. I’m not the kind of person who is deeply fearful of the other party, I’m not mad that my candidate lost, and I’m not being dramatic for effect. What I am is utterly revolted by the man who was just elected president. I am shocked that half of the people in this country either think his racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic remarks are no big deal, or worse—agree with them. And I am terrified that he’s going to do irreversible damage to the world in the next four years.

I voted for Hillary on Tuesday, in case that wasn’t clear. Not because I was “with her,” necessarily, but because I was so adamantly, so forcefully, so disgustedly against him. Lest you think me naught but a sour grapes, bleeding heart, lily-livered liberal, you should know that I would’ve been very open to voting for a reasonable Republican like John Kasich or Mitt Romney this year. But they were not my options. My option was an unsympathetic boor who is totally uninterested in policy of any kind and completely unqualified for the job he now has to do.

blog-quote-2Donald Trump is a bully who believes that insults and name-calling are effective debate strategies. Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from our country—freedom of religion be damned. Donald Trump has suggested that our allies are freeloaders. Donald Trump flies off the handle at the tiniest slight. And now Donald Trump is in charge of the most powerful military in the world. Now Donald Trump has control of the nuclear codes.

What will he do if Angela Merkel holds the line against him? What will he do if Iran or Iraq won’t submit to his will? What will he do if North Korea becomes more aggressive? I don’t want to know.

What I would like to know, however, is what compelled people to vote for him. Because for the life of me, I cannot fathom it. Friends and family, I am curious to hear your reasoning.

If you’re a values voter who considers the Republican party to be more aligned with your beliefs, how do you reconcile Donald Trump’s sick comments about (and alleged violations of) women? If you’re concerned about the Supreme Court, consider the comments Donald Trump made about Latino judge Gonzalo Curiel: Do you think it’s possible for him to choose a justice based on his or her qualifications alone? If you don’t really like Donald Trump but could never bring yourself to vote for a Democrat, how were you able to overlook the fact that he is beloved by the former Grand Wizard of the KKK?

Please, tell me. Make me understand why he was the best choice above all others. Convince me that I should stop worrying about the future of this country. Help me believe that my Muslim, gay, African American, and Mexican friends are still welcome in this melting pot. Assure me that you and I and blog-quote-1everyone we know are safe.

Because right now, I feel anything but. I feel like we have failed not only ourselves, but the world at large. We have let partisanship cloud our better judgment. We have put our future in the hands of an out-of-touch demagogue. I am incredibly embarrassed, and profoundly sorry.