When the world came crashing down during the 2016 U.S. elections, I was numb. Like millions of people, life as I knew it skidded to a halt. I felt useless. I couldn’t work. And then I found some like-minded expat friends and started calling, writing, and protesting.
Life went on.
The sun came up in the morning and set at night. I turned in assignments. We paid the credit card bill every month.
But, as expected, things started to fall apart. Every anti-environmental action, racist and sexist insult, and uneducated decision left me feeling a little more defeated.
All these things are brutal, but here’s what makes all of this worse: This disgusting human being will one day walk out of the White House and he won’t give a damn about what he’s done to all the people who are left in his wake. People who have been hurt or died as a result of his actions. He has destroyed relationships that can never be mended. Families are torn apart. Lovers estranged. Friendships ended.
I’m watching this happen every single day, right in front of me.
And I choose love, even when so many others — even people considered family — do not.
As far as I’m concerned, those who espouse the vitriol propagated by the dictator of the United States are not people with whom I want to associate. I can offer unconditional love into the world, but this does not mean I have to welcome these people back into my life.
This is my life. I am choosing to spend it with open-minded, compassionate, creative, fun, inquisitive, and intelligent people.
This week, I’ve spent a lot of time messaging stateside friends (and family members) — people in my life who go back many, many years. And I truly have made some incredible friends in Kyiv over the past year; friends I won’t want to leave when the time comes.
Friends who send me snaps of street cats and suggest awesome new music recommendations. Friends who laugh over one-liner jokes with me when everyone else rolls their eyes. Friends who randomly wish me good morning and relate when I’m having a particularly introverted moment and teach me new words for Scrabble games.
Friends who text me with “well, fuck,” and I know exactly what they mean.
When those hard days hit — because they do hit eventually, and they can hit exceedingly hard — I know there are still sane people in this world.
These are the people I cherish in my life. I choose love for them.