leaving the country the day after trump's victory felt, to be honest, like leaving a deathbed; on wednesday afternoon, the airport was crowded with tearful travelers clustered around televisions. i wanted to be with the marchers on 57th street instead of waiting for a plane. in the afternoon i texted a friend and asked if we could come to her place for thanksgiving after all; of course, she said, of course. none of us wanted to be alone.
europe had a little of everything for us. the milanese told us we'd elected our own berlusconi,* and that we'd survive, as they had. a frenchman at a wine shop had nothing but contempt for clinton: "better the bastard who stands up and tells you he is a bastard," he sniffed. "she hides." an older german woman in david bowie's neighborhood bar walked over and showed us her copy of der spiegel. tourists were photographing themselves in front of FUCK DONALD TRUMP! on the berlin wall. an older german man spoke of anti-american corners of berlin and begged us to take a cab home. we had long conversations with all of them, and hummingbird meals of news when we got home each night. who anticipated such bitter nectar?
when we got back to the city last week, i resolved to talk to my family before announcing that we were bowing out of the holidays (my stepbrother became a trump supporter this summer, and i strongly suspected he was going to associate with trump in the future, so i was no longer interested in spending time with him). they both confirmed my suspicions and beat me to the punch, suggesting—ever so gently—that it would be easier this time if we went our separate ways.
joe and i also had train tickets, purchased back in june, for washington in january; i'd felt way back then that we were inviting catastrophe by assuming we'd be celebrating the inauguration, but i told myself that i'd be there as a protester if i wasn't there as a reveler. i adjusted the tickets this weekend and will be part of the women's march on washington.
my father and i met at columbus circle on saturday for a walk through central park. i proposed, spit and post-nasal drip ready at the back of my throat, we enter on the other side of the trump international building, but the police on the sidewalk turned us away; if we didn't have business inside, we couldn't pass. when we emerged from the southeastern corner of the park a few hours later, dozens of officers darkened the pavement above the apple store on fifth avenue. across the street, hundreds, thousands of birds sang above us in a single tree before the plaza hotel. a pendant in the chandelier of sound: "there's a cardinal up there," i said.
*related, from this week's new yorker: can women bring down trump?