When I was 13, Desert Fox happened.
I don't know if many of us even remember that event or its name, but I do.
I was home alone sometime during those four days or shortly thereafter, and a very loud airplane flew over my family's house.
I raced to the basement, crouching by my brother's bed, cowering in fear until the noise stopped.
I knew -- from what I had learned in my Current Events class as a seventh grader regarding the danger and complete devastation of nuclear weapons -- that crouching in the basement would not save me, were a bomb actually dropped on our Colorado home in 1998.
But I ran to somewhere where I felt a little more safe.
I've never told anyone this story, ever.
I unfollowed people on Facebook yesterday.
I decided that I can no longer read the texts and emails of certain people in my life right now.
Just minutes ago, I posted my email address on Facebook, so that friends can reach out if they need to talk, but announced that I'm taking a break from the social media scene. I watched a video of my cat playing with a hair tie, and a video of a woman dancing some crazy moves at a basketball game. And then I logged out. I'm going to do my best not to log back in, until further notice. I'm not going to share this blog post on Facebook, because if I do I will be tempted to read comments that people might leave in response, and then my eyes will stray and I will read things that make my heart beat out of my chest.
And my heart's beating out of my chest anyway, so I can't fuel that fire.
The people I'm avoiding, and unfollowing, are people who voted like me. People who have the same terrifying fears as I. Because I can't face my fears. I can't have them voiced out loud and hear or read them.
I can't. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
I make no apologies for what I'm saying here, and I'm not apologizing for getting "political."
In part, because I feel like everything I'm discussing here is not political. I'm simply discussing fears I have, and that is nothing new for this blog. I've gone to some pretty dark corners with you all before; I'm just continuing that journey. I need to get some thoughts out right now, and I feel I owe you, as the writer that I am, my honesty.
I raced to my "basement" here in LA yesterday. After work, I drove to Alex.
It took me several minutes to calm down, even upon arriving at his apartment, but I got there. After about 30 minutes, I could breathe and swallow my dinner and not lose myself to panic.
I helped him film an audition video, and then watched the different takes and gave my opinion on which one I thought was best.
We watched Jimmy Fallon and Kevin Hart ride a roller coaster, and we watched Amy and Andy go through a haunted house, and we laughed so hard.
"You snorted," Alex said to me.
"I know," I said.
I was in the car for 10 minutes, driving home afterward to feed Max and get some rest, when I started to get scared again.
I called Alex. He told me I could come right back to his place if I needed to. I told him I would if I couldn't sleep.
I told him that I feel like I need to escape reality right now. The only way to avoid my crippling fear is to watch TV (NOT the news) and read, if I can even concentrate. Which, in the good moments, I can.
"Ai'nt nothin' wrong with that, Baby," he said.
My love gave me permission to avoid, at least temporarily.
I got home and Max met me at the door. My indoor cat made a run for it outside. He climbed the stairs toward the apartments above me. I followed him. Took video. Texted evidence of his adventure to people I love.
I corralled him back to the apartment, scooped him up and put dry, meat-infused nuggets into his bowl.
I got in bed and read five pages of my book before succumbing to exhaustion.
Max slept vigil next to my pillow all night. He helped me feel safe. When I awoke from dreams, I kissed his fur and rested my head on his purring form.
In general right now, I'm scared. Maybe the most scared I've been in my life. (Hard to say exactly, because I've been scared of a lot of things before -- the prospect of harming myself, acts of terrorism, feeling like the devil had a hold of my heart. SCARY stuff.)
I'm breathing in this current moment. My chest is not alight with tightness and heat.
I don't feel hate for the people in my life who may have voted in a way that I wish they hadn't. The vast majority of people I know are not people who hate. Are not people who will commit hate crimes. Are people who would have the same visceral fear as I if our nation were truly at risk of serious danger.
I wish our nation weren't on a two-party system. I don't want to teach my children that one side of the line is right, and the other is wrong. In some ways, yes, I do want to teach them that (Racism: wrong. Hatred: wrong. Violence: wrong).
But I know my children will feel nuance.
They may want conservative tax regulations but they may have a best friend, like I do, who feels attraction for members of his same sex.
They may not know what to do with that. And giving them only two choices in such a frame of mind seems, I guess, unfair.
What's more, and more urgent, is that giving them only two choices will make them struggle to communicate with people around them. Make them scared to come home for Thanksgiving, and sit around the table worrying that conversation will lean toward taboo topics.
Make them worry that their family may be torn apart. Make them worry that their nation may fall apart. Make them worry that they have no safe place to run, that all they have is the basement that they know won't protect them.
So much more I can say, but I'll stop for now. I'll probably be back, with more thoughts and fears and hopefully peace as life unfolds.
I have work to do. I have to get ready for a weekend out of town. Have to get extra food for the cat, have to clean out my car so there's room for me and Alex and our luggage. Have to locate my athletic shoes, so I can walk 13 miles on Sunday.
I have to write prayers for church.
If you have any requests, for what you'd like my church family to pray for this weekend, let me know. I'll take them into consideration.
I love you guys. I hope you can breathe, and eat, and snuggle your kids and pets without being lost to anxiety.
I'm here to talk if you need it. I may have to keep my distance, if it proves to be too much for me to handle, but I'll do my best.
So much love and peace,