Four Years. Two Elections. One Hope.

Four years ago, on a very different Election Day, I spent many hours at the Obama HQ in San Mateo California entering in all the votes on a spreadsheet. It was the culmination of volunteer activity I had done on the Senator’s behalf while I was still living in California.

It was an extraordinary time to be in the US. The air was thick with hope, of renewed energy after years of despair, fear and anger. Surely something was about to change, and God, did my beloved second home need that change. I felt it. I wanted it as badly as anyone who could actually vote. I hadn’t felt this kind of euphoria since seeing my mother and her generation swept up in the JFK Camelot years.

And it happened. That night, after an exhausting day, I sat in my friends’ living room and watched the votes come in, state by state. For the first time in my life, I spent as much time watching the Twitter feed as I did the TV screen. And I was elated, crying with happiness, and full of hope.

I still have hope, four years later. It’s been a very hard four years for me, for family and friends, and for America and its embattled President. I’m no longer euphoric – I don’t think anyone is. The reality of a hate-filled, grasping, fractious and fractured government just wouldn’t allow for the sweeping change that Mr. Obama had envisioned. But on the eve of yet another Election night, when I’ll again watch the TV and the tweets, alone and farther away this time, I’m placing my hopes in the honesty, integrity, determination and goodness of the American people as they make a critical decision tomorrow. And I am praying.

  • I’m praying that everyone exercises their right to vote. I’m praying that no group, party or individual hinders that right through bureaucracy, bias or intimidation. I’m praying that everyone has the strength and resolve to mark their ballot, no matter what the obstacles are.
  • I’m praying that the rights of every individual – regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, education or income will be respected and cherished.
  • I’m praying that everyone receives the right to affordable health care for themselves and their families.
  • And I’m praying that all elected officials, no matter what their party or position, remembers  that they have been elected to serve their constituents – and not their party, special interests or themselves. (This one is taking the most energy, I’m afraid…)

I love the United States. I miss living and working there more than I can say. I love the people I’ve gotten to know there. And I want more than anything to see a country that works for the good of the entire nation. It will probably take time. But the true change, the change the country really needs, has to start tomorrow.

I have hope.

 

Holding On and Letting Go

I’m sitting in my friends’ shady patio, listening to a silence broken only by the birds and the light fall breeze. I’ve been in California for a month now, and like every time I’m down here in what was once my home, I dread leaving. Despite living in and loving Vancouver, the Bay Area wil always be a lifeline and a refuge for me. I can’t – no, I won’t let go.

It’s not unusual for people to hold on. How many times have we clung to family and friends at the airport or train station, cried at going-away parties and grieved at memorial services? We hold on to dreams, we hold on to hope. But sometimes, we hold on too long. We reach a point when we have to admit that it’s time to finally let go. I learned that with my late husband Dave as he suffered through a long battle with heart failure and finally died. And I’ve just gone through another painful process this wek.

For too long I’ve been storing many of my most treasured possessions from my time living and working in Silicon Valley. I’ve been paying too much keeping my previous life within the concrete walls of unit 3103, hoping against hope that some new job would come along, that at my age I’d still have the chance to obtain a work visa in the US, that everything would be the same again. But of course, nothing will ever be the same again. So I’m finally, painfully, letting go.

Two junk trucks have been and gone. Dear friends have taken some lovely and useful things. I’ll be shipping some treasured books, bells and old photos back to Vancouver. And there’s nothing left but an empty storage unit that will soon be filled again with the remnants of someone else’s life.

It’s been hard. Only Dave’s illness and death, and my mother’s declining health have been harder to bear. I’ve shed many tears sifting through box after box. So many reminders of so much… But it’s done, and it is not only necessary, but it will eventually be liberating once the ache in my heart goes away. I will soon cherish my memories without forever clinging to a life that won’t happen again. And I’ll also be strong enough to free myself to look forward and make new choices, follow new paths, and embrace new adventures. Lucky me:-)

But I’ll still cry every time I say goodbye.

What are you holding on to?

unit 3103

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