Breathing out and Digging in
During the majority of 2020, my mom and I had a running joke, particularly after we would watch the governor's weekly COVID-19 presentations. We'd tell each other that we'd have to wait two more weeks to really know if any new mandates or restrictions would have any effect on the rising case numbers. Two weeks later, we'd say it's just two more weeks. Then two more weeks. Months later, I reminded her that we were on, oh, the 12th iteration of our two weeks.
We kept waiting to take a full breath, hoping that the new year might be a subtle shift. Yet, it felt like 2021 ambled in with a "Hold my beer." It's been an extra-interesting two weeks, the effects of which may not be apparent for a long while. We all keep waiting for what is around each bend, and it's been exhausting. On Inauguration Day, I bowed out of a Zoom to watch the events live, writing into the chat, "Sorry, y'all, I'm antsy," which felt like a huge understatement.
At the end of the ceremonies, the relief for me was physical. My shoulders dropped; my diaphragm expanded. We all know it won't be all pageantry that gets us through, but there was an action of transition, a sight from beyond a new bend that allowed for light.
President Joe Biden didn't give an earth-shattering speech -- he had to follow Amanda Gorman after all, with her reminder that history has its eyes on us, that "there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it/ If only we're brave enough to be it." But it's actions that will lead us out of this, not more conversations about things on which we can't agree. It's our communities that will lead those charges, even if in just socially distanced fellowship right now.
After we shut off the TV, we went to a drive-by inaugural ball, set up by a few couples on a roadside. It became the bright point of the week for the kids, who didn't quite know what had hit them when they were handed -- via red, white and blue buckets on sticks to maintain social distancing -- popcorn, a copy of the Constitution, cupcakes, fruit, flags, flag sunglasses, candy and hot dogs.
It wasn't just a party but a glimpse of community. The kids were able to hear the relief of others and share in some joyful woo-woos; they got to see it's not just Mama who is finally coming up for air. Many of us are exhaling now so we can get to work on moving forward and not backward.
While plenty of us have felt steamrolled, and while there's a lingering desire to steamroll others as retribution, it will be action, however slow and steady, that will speak for both sides now. Expand health care. Organize to slow and defeat COVID. Get our kids back to school safely.
Our actions must continue to light a way forward for all of us. We'll need our own steam to pick up our plows and dig into the earth we share, to dig into the mud as partners and free others who are stuck. We all need to be dug out of the trenches we've been in and head onto the path for a new future, because, as the United States, it's our nature that we cannot go alone.
Cassie McClure is a writer, wife/mama/daughter, fan of the Oxford comma, and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.