I taught my yoga class this morning, choking back raw emotion as I said a few opening words and invited the yogis to set their intention for today’s practice. An hour later, “I needed that, thank you” was what I heard. It was etched on our faces. We all needed that.
After class, I drove into Snohomish, the quaint little farming town I live just up the hill from. I love this town–main street lined with antique shops and stores smelling of cinnamon with wreaths made from twigs and gingham. My soul needed soothing so I headed to the tea shop to replenish my stash of chai. I parked and began walking to where I remembered it being, but found an organic soap store instead. Puzzled, I walked a bit further and then stopped into an ice cream parlor to ask if the tea shop was still in business. “Oh, yes. They moved. Just down the street.”
Relieved that I would soon have my fresh chai, I headed east down First Street. Sure enough, there it was. I stepped into the shop and breathed in a big whiff of the herbally-spicy-earthy bouquet from the clear glass jars of tea lining the walls of the tiny space. “Welcome,” I heard someone shout from the back room before a young man dressed in a red plaid shirt, jeans and a belt buckle the size of my palm emerged to greet me. He reached up and cradled the jar of chai in his arm, asking me how much I wanted when my gaze traveled up to his red baseball hat. “Make America Great Again” was emblazoned across the front. My stomach dropped.
“How’s your day going today?” the young man cheerfully asked me. I gulped and a million words and questions flooded my brain, arguments and accusations, but what came out of my mouth instead was “Well. You know. Okay.” I watched him carefully weigh out my twelve ounces of chai, even giving me a little bit extra for good measure. All his movements seeming to go in super slow motion. The little sticker he placed on the front of the bag, the way his calloused fingers slid the ziplock shut. I imagined him living nearby in the valley, maybe on a farm with cows and horses and hay and guns. He handed me my bag of tea and smiled at me and thanked me for coming in. He wished me a good day. I thanked him, and left.
I walked slowly back to my car, thinking about my interaction with that young man who undoubtedly cast his vote for Donald Trump and celebrated last night’s victory. I thought of how kind and polite he was to me, a middle-aged white woman. And then I thought of my Muslim friend in her hijab and her teenaged black sons, or my trans brother or my Indian nephew-in-law or any of my many immigrant yoga peeps–all of whom work tirelessly to make their world a better place–and I wondered how different this interaction in a tiny tea shop in Snohomish would have been.
Maybe not different at all. But honestly, I didn’t believe that.
Had Hillary been elected last night, I had no illusions of unicorns and rainbows. It was no magic pill. I knew that a huge percentage of disenfranchised Americans had been given voice and validation through Trump’s candidacy. To think that Hillary would be elected and those angry people would go back into the woodwork would be naive. I knew it would take hard work to heal the wounds, to listen to dissident voices, to come together, even a little bit.
The sides have changed, but the same is true today. Hillary’s supporters aren’t going away. Those of us that voted for Hillary are half the population. Our ideals, our diversity, our values are here to stay. The shock is wearing off and we are slowly but surely gathering strength to stand up tall and use our voices for good. Make no mistake, we are here to stay.
My Muslim friend said today she is afraid. She admits she often chooses to wear berets to cover her head, in fear of retribution of being identified as Muslim with her traditional head scarf. I wished I had had the words and foresight to have had a conversation with that young man in the Trump hat at the tea shop today. I would have told him about my friend and her sons and her fear and would have asked him what he thought about that. “How’s your day going today?” I would have told him I was worried and sad.
We have so much work to do. I hope we can start the conversation.