As Fate Closes In

Soph Bonde/Argot Publications Inc. 

Soph Bonde/Argot Publications Inc. 

I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you

My girlfriend’s bedroom in Highland Park is dark and cool, much better insulated than my bedroom in East Hollywood. It’s three in the morning and Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States. We are both poor sleepers, always and forever but tonight especially, and I am reasonably certain she’s awake when I press my lips to her spine and tell her I love her for the first time.

Earlier that day, getting dressed to vote, I wear all white: an impossible tulle skirt with an official campaign shirt from the Hillary Clinton store. When I join my best friend and my girlfriend to watch the election results, I drape my white leather jacket over the back of my chair. I leave the jacket there when my girlfriend and I retreat to watch TV on my friend’s computer—a last-ditch attempt to escape the rolling thunder, if only for a little while, as the clouds gather above the electoral map. But cartoons can’t stave off the storm, and she starts to weep, and so I hold her. I hold her and hold her and hold her until I cannot hold her anymore: my limbs are leaden with grief and it is my turn to cry.

We grieve all night for the people we have failed to be. I want to make perforations in my chest, to dislodge my heart and offer it up to all the people I have failed by not doing more—as though white guilt and sorrow could serve as adequate substitutes for the disenfranchisement of my friends and family. My girlfriend, who is disabled, pledges to quit her job—and immediately realizes that she probably cannot afford to take that risk without first somewhere securing the promise of health insurance. She keens for the loss of her family: her brother-in-law, who is Mexican and lives in Mexico City, will never be able to move to this country. Her sister will never come home.

I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you

I have bitten back those words more times in the past several weeks than I can count: bitten them back at goodbyes; at I-miss-yous; at the immense feeling of grace and gratitude I feel when I roll over and see her face, no-glasses naked, first thing in the morning. I have tried not to say them too soon, and I have worried that in waiting I might wind up saying them too late. I have kept these words locked up inside me out of this fear I had inculcated within myself that my girlfriend, whose love for me is carried in her molecules, would not welcome mine for her.

In the dark cool bedroom in Highland Park, my unspoken love for my girlfriend hovers heavy in my chest like a great woolen fog. It saturates my skin. The significance of the statement is slippery: both vital and invisible—the tiny stitch of thread transforming love-as-secret-and-private into love-as-radical-act. I tell my girlfriend that I love her because it no longer matters—because the reasons not to have dissolved along with my sense of security as an American—and because it suddenly seems immeasurably brave to do so.

I am lucky. We both are. We are white and we live in Los Angeles and our parents have money. It feels frivolous to voice my fears when my location and my background and the color of my skin will surely insulate me from most of the negative consequences of a Trump presidency. But at 3am the weight of my girlfriend’s bony body against mine is a reminder that this simple, beautiful thing between us is not supposed to exist in the eyes of half the electorate. I can feel this understanding in every fiber of my being and for that I am scared and I am sad and I hold her a little bit closer.

And today—today, it is tomorrow. Today I will tell my friends I love them and I will grieve and I will eat ice cream and sing along to the Monkees and read a Perry Mason novel and burrow within myself until I find the well from which I must draw in order to wake up the next day—and the next—and the next—and fight for a better future. Today I am gathering my strength because the days and weeks to come are destined to hold all manner of great and terrible things.

But as for now:  Last night I said “I love you” to my girlfriend for the first time because it felt small and meaningless and brave and important and vital and scary and unsafe and insignificant and profound, all of a sudden with Trump as our presumptive president, to be two women in love.

 

Keely Weiss is a writer and filmmaker. She has been in multiple Twitter fights with Joyce Carol Oates. Find her other work at keelyweiss.com.

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