I pull right out of the parking lot and fight hot tears of exhaustion as I drive home in the dark for the third time this week.
Three days of working split shits.
Three nights of coming home well after I’d like to be in bed, parking by moonlight.
Three nights of a cramping hand, racing to keep up with angry words, harsh accusations, bold-faced lies attacking others’ reputations.
“I can’t be in this job if I’m this sensitive,” I hiss at myself. So I hold those tears back, try the dismissive cynicism route instead, think of bed, and that the week is nearly over and I can sleep for the next 48 hours if I want.
There’s a full moon over Indiana, and the clock-tower on the old bank is lit and glowing warm. A cold breeze catches dry leaves that rattle against the pavement.
I should have let the tears fall, let them wash the ugly out of my soul.
Instead I held back, and today my ears are still full and my heart is still heavy.
“Teabaggers” are racists, women haters, idiots. Liberals hate America. Christine O’Donnell is a witch and Rush Limbaugh, a traitor. Obama is out to destroy us in some Muslim or socialist plot (or both). The school board majority is driving the district into the ground out of spite; the minority is a sore loser who just has it out for small high schools. I hate you and you hate me and we don’t even know what we’re screaming about anymore but screaming we are.
We’re less than two weeks from elections and everywhere I turn people are telling lies, purposely misrepresenting each other’s arguments, naming opponents as public enemy number one.
I guess I’ve been isolated from it all. We don’t get TV reception, and I won’t pay for cable and haven’t got around to putting up an antenna, so I’ve missed most of the political ads. It’s easy to miss them on the radio, and I ignore billboards.
But Thursday night, sitting in a rally filled with vitriolic rhetoric, it hit me hard and I felt sick. Across town the same night, the other side was meeting, and while I wasn’t there I’m pretty sure they were spewing the same kind of poison. I’ve heard them do it before. It’s a good way to get people excited, I guess.
And I’m supposed to be objective and my profession is distrusted by them all and I guess I am objective because I can’t stand any of it.
I crawl into bed and whisper into the dark that if this is what we’ve become, we don’t stand a chance.
Because a house divided against itself cannot stand and we are of all houses the most divided. We’ve left issues and logic and conversation behind in favor of fear and suspicion and scorn leading to hatred.
He comes to kiss me goodnight and says it’s always been this way, remember what they wrote about John Adams in ribald pamphlets that threatened to destroy him?
And as I fall asleep I wonder how, and why, and wish everyone would just stop or at least that I didn’t have to give their empty words a microphone in the Friday paper.
Today I write the words.
And today I become part of the problem.