Last weekend, I had a dream that caused me to wake in a panic.
I was grocery shopping with my husband at local neighborhood market that is right around the corner from our home, a store that we frequent on a weekly basis.
I was shopping for smoothie ingredients. I wanted specific fruits and vegetables and asked the employees to find them for me while I was at the counter. (In this dream, the fruit and veggie department was linked with a smoothie bar…like a deli counter.) We stood at the counter and chatted with the attendants while they found the items I requested. My husband chatted intermittently with us, texting and responding to phone calls while I created my smoothie.
During his phone call, he stepped away from the counter, away from me so his phone conversation wouldn’t interrupt my conversation. When he returned, the manager of the store and multiple security personnel approached us and told my husband that he wasn’t welcome in the store. He needed to leave. We began explaining that we were loyal, frequent customers to the shop and we lived right around the corner from this location and the manager didn’t want to listen. The volume and intensity increased. We weren’t finished shopping and there was no reason for anyone to ask us to leave.
And then the manager said that Khaled didn’t belong here. He needed to leave and go back to his country. He said he didn’t want our kind in his store. He didn’t need our money. I stood between my husband and the security guards and tried to protect him from their hurtful words, from the damaging things they were yelling at him. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t protect him and before the dream ended, I woke up in a panic.
My heart was racing, my skin was flushed, I was crying and shaking.
I have been closely watching the election proceedings. Not so closely that I am consumed by them entirely, but close enough that I know the gist of what is happening. I’ve watched a few debates. I read a few things a day. I looked forward to Ohio’s Primary.
I made sure I knew what day our Primary was taking place. I looked up all of the laws on voter ID and the times our polling places were open. I shared the information on Facebook. I made sure that I planned on voting today.
This morning, I briefly thought about keeping our children home from school. I thought about contacting the school to ask if they needed extra volunteers to come in and direct voters to the Gym. Then I stopped and thought about the location of the gym in relation to all of the other classrooms and I prayed.
I set aside time, leaving early for my workout so I could stop at my polling place and vote on my way. At 9:00 I drove to my polling place. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw no less than 20 Vote for TR**P signs. I didn’t see more than 1 sign for each of the other candidates, except for the person running for representative that lives in our neighborhood.
I voted. Everyone was cheerful. There was a buzz of excitement inside the polling venue. We have a lot of the same people working our location every election, so they recognize us. People were happy to see us voting.
And then I left to go to my Cardio Drumming class and as I drove through the city, I saw that every intersection was blanketed with those Vote for TR**P signs. My heart rate became elevated. I felt my breathing quicken. My palms were moist on the steering wheel.
Every time I saw one of those signs, it was like someone whispering into my ear, “You Don’t Belong Here, Go Away.”
By the time I got to class, my mind had wandered to what will happen in our neighborhood when the election draws nearer. Our neighborhood is quite diverse. We have no less than 10 Muslim families in our direct neighborhood, 1 street away on either side of our home. We have Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Egyptian, Indian, South Asian, Asian and black families that live all within this 1 mile radius. We also have quite a few conservative Republicans on our street. I know this because over the past 10 years, we’ve seen the yard sign proof of their voting choices.
What will we do if one of our neighbors has one of those Vote for TR**P signs in their yard? I can’t really continue our friendly, neighborhood banter when I know that they support someone who wants to whitewash America. Will we continue to feel welcome in our own home? Feel safe?
Today, when our children came home from school, we talked about the day and they asked me if I voted. I told them I had, but then Pea came and hugged me.
She asked, “If TR**P becomes President, will we have to move to Canada?”
I told her no, but in my mind I thought, ‘God, I hope not.’
On the way home from running errands tonight, again, I drove through those intersections and felt the same tension and panic rise up in the back of my shoulders and neck.
I can only protect us from so much. My children, my husband and I are constantly aware that this hatred is looming like a haze of pollution. I fear it will only get thicker over the next several months. I pray that my family and all of America can recover from this election.