Today’s Inauguration – an email to my dad

Hi Dad!

Did you watch the inauguration today? I did. I was super-excited to, actually.

Not gonna lie – I cried. Multiple times.

The optimism – the hope – the military band – the imagery of all the flags on the the National Mall – Lady Gaga’s breathtaking performance – Garth Brooks asking everyone in person and at home to sing the last verse of Amazing Grace along with him . . .

But I found myself crying hardest when Kamala took her oath.

I was a little girl in 1984, and even then I knew Geraldine Ferraro had a lackluster persona, and I wasn’t surprised they didn’t win.

But I thought that I’d see a female Vice President or President in my lifetime. I never knew it’d take – what? 35 years?

*does the math*

36. 36 years.

And Vice President Harris is super classy!

President Biden is as white bread as they come, but my GOD he speaks in complete sentences. And above a third grade level. Biden’s words showed strength and confidence. Respect for this country, our constitution, and the American people. It’s brilliant to see that on the political stage.

He’s got a damn good speech writer. And he’s TRYING . . . holy cow, TRYING to unite this mess of a country. I’m rooting for him, I really am.

And OH MY GOD, Michelle Obama walked in wearing that amazing outfit and about stole the damn show.

And Dr. Jill Biden . . . wait, lemme just say that again – DR. Jill Biden . . . earned a doctorate in education and teaches college.

A PROFESSOR.

You know, like I tried to do with my meager masters degree at these colleges with their let’s-hire-adjunct-professors horseshit attitude so I worked two jobs on top of teaching college and left the house at 6 in the morning and returned at midnight and averaged $4.00 an hour with what they paid me to teach while the president of the college drove a goddamn Aston Martin?

But I digress.

DR. BIDEN’S SUIT SPARKLED.

And she acts like she really really likes her husband.

Unlike other First Ladies.

You know, I actually felt sorry for her until she insulted Christmas and kids in cages with multiple F-bombs and butchered Jackie Kennedy’s Rose Garden.

But I digress again.

Look Dad, I know these are people you don’t like and don’t trust, but they seem to be respectable people and for the first time in a long time I have hope. Hope for my future. Hope for America’s future. I lost every job I had and a shabby little house I’d worked so hard to make a home. I went broke and declared bankruptcy because the insurance I couldn’t afford wouldn’t pay for the healthcare I needed. For so long I saw those things as failures of my strength and my character. It took years to finally realize it was the failure of a system that forgot this country was built on the strength of everyday people that live here. My teacher friends should not work two and three jobs to survive. For that matter NO ONE should work multiple jobs to survive.

I watched you leave the house every morning, sparkling briefcase, dapper hat, and freshly creased pants (thanks to Mom’s amazing ironing skills), and I marveled at the grown-up world and your nice office with the ringing telephones and papers everywhere and adults clacking at keyboards. When I grew old enough to understand that you grew up a poor farm kid in the rural midwest and worked and worked and studied and worked some more and raised through the ranks from what you call a “hard-scrabble” life to a middle-class life I thought that was how it was done. I was excited to do the same.

But I never ever could make ends meet. Still barely can. I spent most of my adult life working multiple jobs until the recession hit and there simply weren’t any more jobs. I worked my ass off for a masters degree, so excited to be a college professor – and damn near starved when I was one.

I know you don’t think I’m dumb. I know you don’t think I’m lazy. I know you agree with me that the American Dream is a faded memory for most. But there’s a disconnect between how you think it should be fixed and how I think it should be fixed.

*stares hard at Fox News*

You’ve told me for years I just have to “keep on keeping on” and you and Mom have sent me encouragement and bill money and promises that things would get better if I’d “just find the perfect job.”

The perfect job is one that provides sustainability – preferably emotionally and financially.

That’s not possible anymore.

For more than one reason.

The system is broken. I know we can agree on that. And even in my optimism, even in my tears of joy today, I know these people are not the ones to fix it. But I feel they can be role models for the American people and work WITH them to fix it.

Look at them – standing together in solidarity at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. They aren’t defined by party lines – they’re all leaders of our great country.

They are not to be worshiped. Not to be revered. Not to be idolized.

We don’t need a leader to save us, we need leaders who understand us.

Seeing former presidents stand together to welcome in the new administration is a display of unity this country needs right now.

*stares hard at Mar-a-Lago*

You know what, I’m glad he didn’t go. Good riddance. That asshole can’t stand it if the camera’s not on him,

I woke up the morning of January 20, 2017, with a horrible sense of dread hanging over my head. And it’s never left.

Every morning was like a shock to my system when I checked social media.

I watched our country disintegrate into chaos and darkness in real time.

I lost friends. Family. Rational people who descended into a delusion of celebrity worship and misinformation that will forever boggle my mind. Relationships I’d had for decades that I have no idea how or if I even want to heal again.

I remember standing on those steps of the Capitol Building. I remember touring the White House. I remember looking out the window of the Washington Monument, and looking up at the gargantuan statue of Abraham Lincoln. You tell the story of how our plane had to circle the runway once before landing, and I stared out the window, wide-eyed at Washington DC and all the beautiful buildings from the air before I got to see them on the ground. Apparently I told you and Mom that was my favorite part of the trip. I’m old enough I’ve forgotten that detail of our trip to Washington DC but I will never – NEVER – forget the solemnness of the crowd at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or the buzzing activity of the National Mall, or the beautiful painting on the ceiling of the Capitol Building. But most of all, I will never forget the enormity of it all. While I didn’t understand it, I recognized it was important. And as I grew up, I put the pieces together of what I saw as a child with what I learned of democracy as an adult. And yesterday, I can tell you with absolute certainty, my faith in democracy was shaken.

Today it is on its way to restoration.

You and I have always disagreed on politics. We’re not of the same generation. We’re not going to agree on everything – we see the world from different decades.

And that’s fine.

As President Joe Biden said today: “If you still disagree, so be it, that’s democracy, that’s America.”

And you and I never grew so far apart that we couldn’t talk through our disagreements, or God forbid hated each other for our belief systems.

Some families are not so lucky.

You and I share a common knowledge that something is wrong with the American Dream, and that’s a place to start.

I hope beyond hope that we as a nation can move forward, and heal . . . not only emotionally and mentally, but physically.

Because, you know, pandemic.

But today I was genuinely surprised when Kamala Harris took her oath of the Vice Presidency and I burst into tears.

That little girl sitting on a gym floor watching a lady try to be Vice President on tv was a proud woman today.

I was a proud American.

I am a proud American.

For the first time in my whole goddamn life –

I have hope for our country.

For my future.

For every American’s future.

“We’ll press forward with speed and urgency for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.” – President Joe Biden

Sorry for being long-winded. You know I fancy myself a writer.

I love you. I love Mom. Please tell her when she calls you tonight that I’m sorry I missed her call today, and I’ll call her tomorrow. I hope the lady at the nursing home who keeps taking her chair stops harassing her tomorrow, and the kitchen gets her pudding cup order correct this time.

Wash your hands.

Wear your mask.

Much love,

Marti

Outside the White House – 1982

2 Comments

  1. Your letter to your Dad touched my heart, Marti. And I so hope the feelings and sentiments and hopes we experienced yesterday ring true in the future as well. We hope again. Let’s hope our hopes are realized.

    Like

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