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Shadowlands

Fighter jets tore lowly through the sky, their thunderous ruckus reverberating off the walls—leaving the open windows’ wavy panes shuddering in their weathered mullions, and Joanna cowering in my bedroom’s darkest corner.

Minutes later, my car heaved uphill as another jet maneuvered directly overhead, splintering my thought process as white contrails crisscrossed the hazy, smoke-filled sky. A large water container rolled in the passenger side foot well, and my bag sat shotgun, bloated with all the essentials. In the rearview mirror, I caught the top of JoJo’s head peeking above her crate’s sea of towels, her buff coat shivering from the skyward clatter.

“It’s like the beginning of a siege…” I murmured into the fractured air.

I felt as though I was living Red Dawn‘s opening sequence.

But it wasn’t an invasion, just Seafair—an annual event in Seattle that should be renamed “The Day When Your Pets Think the World is Ending.”

Still, coupled with the intense heatwave across the Pacific Northwest, and the smoke from Canadian wildfires hovering over the city, the jets’ presence kept triggering my evolutionary inculcated flight response. And as I continued glancing back at JoJo, I recognized that what we had spread over the dirty carseats would be the remnants of our life should we ever actually have to flee.

***

Like a lot of folks, I’ve been thinking about the what-ifs hourly. And how can I not—what with tweets being parlayed into policy, or threats of nuclear holocaust; speeches emboldening violence by those sworn to protect; civil rights abuses committed daily against historically marginalized groups, especially people of color and trans* people; threats of censorship hurled against the fact-based free press; acquisitions of broadcast channels by propaganda juggernauts like Sinclair; climate denial being twisted into curricula; and our country’s place within a world of nations falling precipitously into a darkened, ignored void. I often feel that it’s horrifyingly rational to want to leave America to smolder in its own ruined ashes.

And while I try to combat the negativity—the ceaseless welter of chaos dripping out of the latest headlines—and exercise self-care, it’s becoming all the more difficult to see how this country will survive this blight.

I feel the constant specter of a dictator, and I wonder if the America that showed some semblance of a promising trajectory is now out of reach. If perhaps the ugly origins of this country—springing from genocide and subjugation and exploitation—are reclaiming it, circumventing the governing processes and legislators meant to prevent utter societal collapse. I wonder how united our states will remain as the ground beneath us, upholding our democracy, continues to shake, crumbling away into the shadowlands of this budding dictatorship.

But then I remember that people-powered resistance has held us together through this presidency’s horrendous, protracted infancy—has reminded me that even in the darkest of times, there is, and must always be, hope.

And hope is certainly worth the fight.