Sunday my mom and I blew off church. It was just starting to feel like part of the same terrible weekly routine and we wanted to do something different. I asked her if maybe she wanted to go to the state park in Orient (the end of the island) instead and do some walking around outside. She agreed. It was lovely and breezy and fall-like. There were families walking and families fishing. It was very pleasant. Afterwards I hung out at her house for a bit. In the yard. On the way home I passed a couple of really large Biden/Harris signs in her town. It was so heartening to me. I live in a district represented by a Republican Congressman. He spoke during the RNC. There are Trump flags (plural) on my running route. My son went to someone’s house and this boy had a confederate flag on his wall. It’s like that here.
So I was feeling good. I was feeling good that maybe we could oust our red guy for the scientist and democrat candidate running against him. And then I turned down from the North Road to the Main Road and on the corner and across the street were bunches of people. Bunches of people with Trump flags. And American flags. Sitting. With pickup trucks. It was kind of odd. And surprising. I thought it was just them. Just those people. But after stopping and chatting with my friend (who lives on the Main Road) she told me that there was a parade. A caravan. Of Trump supporters. Driving from up island to the town just before my mom’s. As we sat in her yard, there were giant pick up trucks with flags flapping in the wind. There was the tooting of horns in support of the side-of-the-road folks. It was a lot. So I went home.
On the way I passed about a dozen people out in front of the Marketplace. They had Dump Trump signs. And one Biden/Harris sign. And an American flag. I tooted at them. I shaka-ed at them. And then I went home. But I really wanted to join them. I came home and told my son. He was very much against it. He reminded me of what happened to protestors in Charlottesville. I told him that I felt afraid but that I had as much of a right to be out there as anyone else. And I felt like I had to do something. So I went.
The guy I ended up standing next to told me he had just come out to the market to pick up some groceries. The first guy that cursed at us after I got there stuck his head out of his sunroof while he was driving to call us “retards.” His lovely wife, stuck her head out next to call us “fuckfaces.” The group that I was with was very passive. No one was responding in kind when attacked in this way (apparently other groups further East had been a bit more aggressive in their responses). The “parade” was still headed East but some of the participants were headed back West as well. At times the traffic stopped right in front of us. One woman in particular just kept yelling “Trump, Trump, Trump” out of her window. Many, many people gave us the middle finger. Many people yelled “fuck Biden.” One man, while stopped at the light, was ranting about how all the criminals were going to be set free and how would we like that. At one point, three elderly folks walked over to join us. They lasted about ten seconds before understanding what participating was going to feel like and immediately left. My friend, from the Main Road joined me for a while though. A family with an approximately twelve year old girl stopped as well. I would like to say that people were more civil once we had a child in our midst but I can’t.
A car full of Trump supporters pulled into the Marketplace parking lot. A man, a woman and two near teens jumped out. They had a Trump flag and ran out of the car with it. They ran over to us and held the flag in between us and the road. The teen girl stumbled towards traffic a bit and I couldn’t help but wonder what this was teaching them. It all felt like madness.
And what it also felt like to me was fear. Power. Dominance. What it felt like was Trump supporters who seemed to be emboldened to do anything. To say anything. And that it was okay. And this was one of the reasons that I really wanted to be out there because as absolutely ugly as it was, I wanted the other people. The ones without the flags. The ones not participating in the cult of personality, to know that we are not all like that. That there is hope. The people in those cars. Many were brown. Many were young. Many had children in the car. Many were female. Many of them did not honk. Many just waved or gave us a thumbs up. Because showing support there in that moment, in any way, seemed really scary. Seemed like then you would be a target as well. And who wants that?
I was able to do it for about forty five minutes and then I had had enough. I came home and literally just sat in the sun for a while. I could still hear all of the honking. Part of me could argue in my head that the majority of the trucks, the flatbed with the sound system, the motorcycles and sirens, were from up island. From a place that was not where I live. But the crowds on the sides of the road were from here. Sitting in the back of pick up trucks. Or on folding chairs on the side of the road. With their American flags. And MAGA hats.
Today when I dropped my son off at school. The nice man in the mask who took my son’s temperature gave me a wave. Was he there yesterday? Cheering on the anger? Did the old guy I saw on my run today give me the finger yesterday? What about the people who work in the post office? Or my local Starbucks? I knew. I knew what it was like out here. I can’t say that I didn’t know but it almost feels like my world has experienced an earthquake. An earthquake and everything that I thought I knew is potentially wrong. My world feels askew. I thought that people could disagree but still be kind and decent. But I don’t know. It’s like a license to terrorize. To berate and belittle people who don’t agree with you. And I am certain that that attitude is not one that solely exists here. If it did not feel like the end of the world before, it most certainly does now.