“Politics just exhaust me,” she says while sipping wine out of a frosty stainless steel wine tumbler from the comfort of her deck chair. “I just can’t get that worked up about it, you know?”
My friend brushes a tendril of wavy blonde hair off of her cheek. “I just prefer to live my life and not think about it. When it comes down to it, nothing that happens is going to affect my day-to-day.” She shrugs and leans back.
What a luxury it is, I thought, to have that attitude. And, honestly, I could take that stance if I wanted to.
I am the same age as my friend, older by a month. I have a good job as does my spouse. My friend’s husband is a physical therapist and she made the decision to stay at home to raise her children, though they are both grown now. She lives in a beautiful home in a gated community, and my husband and I are a few days from breaking ground at building the house that neither of us imagined even a decade ago that we’d be in the position to have built.
My children are also grown. I am white. I am past childbearing age. I identify and present as the gender I was assigned at birth and easily pass as heterosexual, I dress more conservatively these days, and I have medical insurance through a government job which gives me the stability I never had while I worked in the private sector.
I don’t have to give a shit. I got mine.
I could sit on my ever-widening middleclass ass and reap the benefits of my status. I could chortle and roll my eyes as I reach for the bottle of chardonnay, like my friend does as she exclaims how her husband of 20 years and his whole family voted for Trump, so she just doesn’t bother voting; her vote is more than canceled out. “I don’t agree with them, but what can you do? Our politics are just different.” She flits into the other room to grab the little box of macarons she picked up from the bakery on her way home.
I could ignore that, while my friend had her college and housing paid for by her wealthy parents well into her 20s, I had a baby as a teenager, another at 22, and worked my ass off while struggling to keep from being evicted or having my utilities shut off well into my 30s. And that I relied on social services to survive, services which are threatened now due to policies being pushed by our current administration. I could conveniently forget this because life had finally evened out for me, and due to my gift of bullshit and maybe a little luck, I had talked my way into jobs that would lend themselves to a solid foundation that has me sitting where I do now career-wise. With a stable job that comes with benefits and a retirement plan. I got mine.
“Why would a transgender even want to be in the military? I sure wouldn’t. I think our military is overfunded as it is, that’s what I keep hearing,” she says, knowing that we agree on part of this sentence and failing to understand that she’s missing the point completely.
I could say the meaningless words that “things aren’t as bad as they seem” when it comes to racial tensions. I don’t see discrimination from my cul-de-sac. If I can’t feel it, it doesn’t exist. “I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call them Nazis.” She scrunches her face and shrugs again. “Don’t they call themselves something else now?”
I could cocoon myself in the bubble-wrap of utter denial, the privilege of sitting where my friend and I sit, which is under the cool umbrella of whiteness, of a “hetero-normative” lifestyle, of relative financial stability, drinking chardonnay and not giving a fuck because I got mine and I’m not likely to have it taken away. Why should I care?
I could smile and nod condescendingly when I’m told about grassroots efforts to unseat the nightmare that was elected by those who got theirs and those who haven’t but are convinced that, if we “take our country back” (from whom?) and “make America great again” (no one has been able to explain what this means) things will be better (for them). I could easily shrug off efforts to lift up leaders who care about this planet, the people on it, and humanity; all humanity, not just those who look like they belong in my neighborhood.
“I don’t have time for all that,” I could yawn, “what would it matter anyway? But I sure hope it all works out.” I’ll stare out into the distance from the deck of my new home. Blissfully unaffected.
It would be so easy to pretend I didn’t give a shit. To “Live, Laugh, Love” as Taylor Swift plays from my Bluetooth speaker and I grouse about my husband’s long hours at the country club’s golf course, and chat with my friend about that one bitch in my pilates class. I could shut my eyes and plug my ears and question why I should even care from the comfort of my zip code. With blood on my hands, but I could do it. So easily.
“Oh, I paid MY dues, it’s time for someone else to do the work,” she says forgetting that I’ve known her since we were 11 years old.
I could take that attitude for the rest of my life and easily get away with it.
I have mine. Isn’t that what’s truly important?