The Edge of Fifteen
Like a lot of people, I’ve taken the news of Donald Trump’s election victory quite hard—harder than the results of any other election in my life. Since the heart-wrenching returns came in I’ve been wallowing in my misery while wearing all black. I’ve reverted to listening to Pink Floyd on repeat, like I used to do in high school.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed in an election. When I was in elementary school I was devastated that flim-flam hustler Ronald Reagan (whose Republican National Convention I had watched on a black-and-white television!) beat the nice Jimmy Carter. I finally get all those pop-culture 70s jibes about people wearing their McGovern campaign pins long after the election ended. This is personal. I feel like everything I am and everything I stand for has been put out by the curb for trash day. I agree with outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid, who released a long statement last week calling Trump a “sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate.” I haven’t gotten to the crying yet.
“You’ve really regressed,” my friend told me when I described my election aftermath. Calling Donald Trump our “President elect”has pushed me right back to how hopeless I felt at fourteen, when Reagan was re-elected. Back then all I could do to express my unhappiness was an art project: a dartboard in my childhood bedroom with Reagan’s face on it. Just like a powerless fourteen year-old living in a small town outside of Houston, being a kooky liberal lady living in the red state of Texas makes me feel powerless and marginalized. In a bit of ironic timing, it’s like I’ve been pushed straight back to the awfulness portrayed in the movie, “The Edge of Seventeen,” which came out this past weekend.
My 80s Reagan dart board made my mother really uncomfortable. As hippie-liberal as I am, my family is staunchly and doggedly conservative. The holidays should be…interesting.
Luckily I wasn’t alone on election night. Oddly the party I was at happened to have been featured in a brief video in The New York Times called “America Reacts: The Next President Is …” but I’d left the event by the time the results came in. The NYT video showed the high-school age daughter of the household wiping away copious tears as Donald Trump was declared the winner. Good thing the videographer stuck around. Video of me silently swapping texts with my girlfriends about Vancouver property values wouldn’t have made captivating video.
As I was leaving the election event, the host of the no-longer-a-party gifted me me a copy of his label’s charity album “Let All the Children Boogie: A Tribute to David Bowie”– a clever collection of Bowie covers that was just released to benefit the “It Gets Better” project, to support their work with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer youth. Alas, I’m really not ready to really listen to that cheerful and hopeful tribute album, as my emotional state is in no way ready for such happiness and optimism.
Other people are taking positive steps following the election. The guy I was in love with in high school has offered his pro-bono services as an officiant to marry other gay couples (his husband is a lucky man.) Others are offering to photograph LGBTQ weddings for people who can’t afford to hire a photographer. Another friend is compiling a nationwide list of creatives willing to do pro-bono work for left leaning causes.
I’m sure as we move further from the election I’ll be able to escape my navel-gazing funk for a more productive coping strategy. Maybe I’ll donate my “get ‘er done” photographic skills to a good cause or just be able to manage some dedicated listening to that hopeful David Bowie tribute album.
Unlike the last time I was this unhappy about politics, at least I don’t have to pretend to do any algebra homework…and nowadays even Texas has services for teenagers who are struggling with their sexual orientation. That may be important, as Vice-President elect Mike Pence isn’t known for his pro-LBGTQ stance.
If you want to be reminded of the kind of misery I’m feeling, I’d suggest going to see “The Edge of Seventeen.”