Although we’ve “met”–on two different occasions, in two different cities–spanning more than a year’s time–we’ve never exchanged names.
Our first connection was on an unseasonably hot day in April of 2016 in Albany’s Capitol Park after a rally for Bernie Sanders.
It was our first time as a family in Albany and after we marched through town, we took a seat on a park bench in the shade just as a man wearing a bright MAKE AMERICA GREAT cap hobbled our way.
He said something to us about our Bernie signs, and we said something about his cap, and then we listened to his concerns for the country, and first me and then my husband painstakingly explained why we thought that his candidate was the wrong fit for the country; but eventually it was our 15 year old son who persisted in the dialogue, and thus, we parted ways with a hand shake, and the man in the Make America Great cap wished us a safe trip back to Vermont; while we watched as he went from bench to bench, engaging other Bernie supporters, followed by a string of screaming matches that followed him as he shuffled out of the park and across the street to wait for the bus in the heat.
We walked past him on our way toward our hotel down State Street, and my heart ached with the most pressing concern he shared:
The shrinking dollar menu at McDonald’s.
“I would vote for Bernie,” he told me, “But he won’t make it.”
Fast-forward to 2017–to a 4th of July celebration on the opposites side of the Hudson in Troy, NY.
Another city hobbling toward a come back
with deepening pockets of despair.
“There’s a shooting in one of these cities every day,”
said a man with whom my husband had struck up a conversation.
Our family had sought shade far enough away from the Beatles cover band to soften the intensity, and while my husband continued his conversation, I took in the crowds, until I nudged him, and said:
“Hey, look! It’s him! The guy in the red cap, from last year in Albany! How wild is that!”
And then the man actually shuffled toward us and sat down right beside me. It turns out he remembered us too, and I said, “So your guy won, how are you feeling about his Presidency?” and he said that everyone was blocking him, and I said, But he has both houses, it doesn’t get better than that…
And I was ready to launch into healthcare and wages, but then I paused and considered his faded cap, and noticed that the woman who approached him, saying “Hi Morgan,” looked as if her life was worse off than his, and so, I couldn’t bear to dash what remaining dreams he held for #45.