America Is Hungover

Alexa, play "Raising Hell" by Kesha

This morning, I woke up and walked into my living room. It was snowing. The sky was as bright as the snow-covered rooftops and the roads below. My living room was absolutely radiant with winter light. I made coffee, listened to some music and thought about the poem I’ve been writing all week. And I smiled. It will be okay.

There were times when I was so worried about America, I’d set my life on fire every night after work. I think, on some level, I believed that if I was better at being myself, I would actually understand what was going on and maybe even be able to make a difference. But I couldn’t understand. And I wasn’t making a difference. (Don’t try to interrupt me here and say “But you were making a difference.” Sometimes how we feel is more impactful than our reality. And I felt like a loser.) Every single day, push notification by push notification, headline by headline, tweet by tweet, America found a new way to devastate me, so I’d go home and obliterate myself as punishment for my failings. I drank so much that I’d alternate liquor stores because I couldn’t bear to make eye contact with the same cashier twice in one week. I’d finish a bottle of wine without trying, shrug and open a second bottle. Don’t even get me started on how I spent my weekends. And if you love me, you will never ask me about Sundays.

That’s not my story anymore. I’ve stopped punishing myself. America is, obviously, still on fire, but I no longer believe that I deserve to be its tinder. I am trying my best. And frankly, that’s all this country deserves.  The news, while deeply concerning, does not have to be received as an indictment of personal failings. Maybe it seems silly that it’s taken me so long to reach an obvious conclusion, but my sense is that a lot of us have been wearing ourselves out trying to make sense of America. And failing.

All of this is a rather elaborate way of trying to tell you that I hope you are being kind to yourself. I hope, even as you make space for the occasional recklessness, you are treating yourself the way you wish America would treat you.