Trigger Warning: This is obviously a political post. If you don’t like political posts, don’t read it.
The first president my son will know is Donald Trump, was my last thought Tuesday night before the alcohol took me and I passed out.
When the weekend finally came Angie and I couldn’t stand being in the house. We drove to Tucson, picking up our friend Katy on the way, and took Jack to the Sonoran Desert Museum.
Katy, Angie, and I did our best to not talk about the election, but it was never far from conversation. Jack couldn’t be bothered and was busy exploring.
Soon the joy of watching a child learn overwhelmed us and, for the first time in nearly a week, we joined him in the adventure.
Diner conversation turned back to politics. On long drive back to Phoenix we listened to our favorite political podcast hoping it would make us feel better. It didn’t.
In the morning, Curry, Golab, and I piled into the Subaru for some hiking in a far off corner of the state. On the way we tried to talk about other things, but every conversation we had lead back the election. We didn’t agree on everything, but we in the end we settled on two things: 1.) We were scared. Scared for our friends, scared for our country, scared for our futures, and yes, scared for ourselves. And, 2.) If we, three straight, white, armed men, were this scared, we couldn’t comprehend what Others felt like.
We talked as long as we could bare too. But soon the sun was up, bringing light to our little valley.
Its rays warmed our bodies, and its permanence calmed my mind. We settled into a high exposed ridge to look for some deer. The calm focus of glassing rubbed off on me, and for a the first time in nearly a week I managed to think of nothing.
Other ridges looked more promising, so we packed up, excited for new places we had yet to explore.
The next ridge was impossibly steep. As we climbed toward our destination the pain took our bodies and our minds. Hearts pounding there was only time to think of breathing. By the time we reached our destination we were exhausted, but our minds were spotless.
But chores at home called.
And too soon we were back at the car. Exhausted, covered in cuts from the trailside acacia, and hungry, we felt didn’t feel good but we felt better. It felt good to feel better.
It has been a week now. I would love to tell you that I’ve recovered, but I haven’t. For a week I have oscillated between the hope that President Trump won’t govern as Candidate Trump promised, and the horror of watching him start to govern exactly as Candidate Trump promised. I am sure his voters had their reasons, and no, I don’t think all these reasons are racist or misogynist. Yes, I am sure they had their reasons, but that doesn’t mean I can understand them right now. I hope one day I will.
Instead I will go outside and feel the sun on my face. I will watch my son explore and learn. I will walk until my lungs will not let me walk anymore. I will take in the sights, wipe the sweat off my brow, and tighten my boots. I will listen to the streams, watch the deer graze, and smell the morning dew. Now, I will go outside, and hopefully, blessedly, find some peace.
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Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. He writes here at Lesser Places, occasionally for Backpacker.com, and even more occasionally for scientific journals. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.