They're out there. People still driving around with McCain/Palin bumper stickers. Neighbors with fresh holes in their lawns where they pulled up the McCain signs. Acquaintances who spot me coming down the aisle at the supermarket and wheel the cart in the opposite direction.
I want to tell them it's safe to come back. I've stopped ranting and I'm not gloating. In the spirit of healing that Barack Obama has brought to our country and the world, I'm ready to do the same thing. Ready to reach out to Republicans.
I feel their pain. I've been there. We all have And I remember it well. Not only the sour taste of defeat, but the desperation of despair. Fearing that the country is a runaway train barreling full speed down the wrong track and you are helpless to do anything about it. Feeling that you are an island of sanity surrounded by hostile aliens.
Weeks ago, while I was in the depths of Democratic cheerleading, I got an email from a woman whose son was on the same high school football team with my son a few years ago. We had a nodding acquaintance across the bleachers, and I have never seen her outside a football scenario.
She sent me this personal email because she had inadvertently been sent one of my blogs -- and she didn't like it. I can't remember which one it was -- maybe when I wrote snarky songs about McCain and Palin, or when I compared John McCain to Mike Tyson. (OK, so I went a little over the top.)
She was not involved in politics, she wasn't interested in commenting publicly, but she had strong feelings. Instead of bitching about me behind my back, she took the time to sit down and very thoughtfully express her views from the other side, and not so gently reprimand me for implying that all Republicans must be stupid.
I went back and looked at the words I had written through her eyes. I couldn't take back my words, nor would I -- but I wrote her back. And then she wrote back again. And in this way, we exchanged more words over the internet than we had ever exchanged in real life. Our opinions about this election were as far from each other as the North and South Poles. In our electronic exchange, we agreed to disagree. And she suggested that when it was all over, maybe we'd meet for coffee sometime to discuss the ultimate result. I knew we never would. It was one of those things you say to break off a conversation that is ready to end.
I went on ranting about Republicans. And I'm sure she never read my blog again.
A few days after the election, I ran into her in the UPS store. We were both mailing packages to our sons who were away at their respective colleges. We talked a little about how they were doing -- sticking to our one piece of common ground and steering clear of the big red elephant in the room.
I tried to dial down my post-election euphoria. I remembered how it felt when McGovern lost every state except Massachusetts. And when we elected Bush for the second time and I was considering a move to New Zealand. So before I left the UPS store, I reminded her about that cup of coffee. We're meeting tomorrow.