Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Beauty Breaks Free

I stood there crying at the polling place. It was 6:07 a.m. And as usual, I looked bedraggled: clean wet hair, no longer dripping; sun screened face, gleaming makeup free; glasses, shielding my tears.

You might think welling up befits a woman--weeping may be because I am a woman witnessing a woman's name on a ballot for president. That is my gender. That is the backdrop; I can't dismiss it. But that isn't what caught my throat.

Beauty draws out my tears.

And what about beauty this year? Where is it? Where has it been? Here. All along.

Beside, in front, and behind me were neighbors. I recognized very few. I'm new. I wouldn't even say I have roots yet. But they knew each other. Back slaps, good mornings, asking personal questions of each other. Here were humans. I found them. It was so strange to see a face not illumined by a blue light. Strangely beautiful to see eyes looking into eyes. This was beauty.

Then I saw a Beauty.

A woman held herself two steps from the bottom of the staircase. She was in her 80s maybe 90s dressed, not like me. Cherry red tam and matching coat, crisp pants that broke at the shoe, as they should. Her cane may as well have been a scepter. Regal. Erect. A queen, gripping the banister.

A woman offered her a chair and another waved it away and said, "She prefers to stand."

She prefers to stand.

This woman, her age, her gorgeous skin tone said she knew a time when she could not vote, when laws prevented it. Have you been full-hand slapped? Had the tears knocked onto your face? This was a slap of a thought. That was reality. And here she was resplendent.

My feet walked down each of the piano key stairs. My community surrounded me. Each of us there, at the core of it, for the same reason: to make something because we can.

We vote to say we are human. To say we are here. To say life matters. To say others matter. To say we have free will. And then to prove it.

That moment. That coming together was transcendent. A chorus. Holy. It was a sight to behold. Even though my eyes bleared it.

I don't know what will happen next. How it will unfold. But you can't snatch humanity out of a heart. You can't shrink down what a person is, who they are, how they live. No matter what the votes say and the power it grants. And if they try? Well...

I prefer to stand.