I couldn't help but empathize with outgoing Barack Obama as he engaged in his last White House Correspondents' Dinner. I know from experience that outgoing presidents in the United States usually are tired and worn but with Obama, there was a degree of cynicism, anger and disappointment that was new.
"When I said I wanted to change the tone eight years ago, maybe I should have been more specific," he said, an obvious allusion to a bizarre presidential race in which one freak circus candidate has attacked opponents as being on their period or having had relatives involved in the Kennedy assassination. And these attacks seem to be working, in a country that is so warped and broken that they don't believe in anything tangible anymore.
Like Obama, I went way beyond expectation in my life. I have epilepsy and was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome as a teenager. Instead of living in my mom's basement, I have had many living situations of my own, which I found on my own, and have maintained relationships and friendships all my own.
I survived a drug withdrawal episode that could have crushed many people. After that episode, I tried hard to apply empathy to all my life situations, leaving me with the same disappointment that a candidate who ran under "hope" and "change" now clearly shows.
I built all sorts of friendships and relationships, which, while genuine, nevertheless, those relationships fractured, often with me the bystander in the situation. My fiance Jennifer Reimer travelled to live with me from the east coast - she seemed in to me and loving of me in a way few couples ever are. I wasn't able to stop her anorexia or her drug use and she eventually passed away - "I love you, baby" being her final words before she passed away.
After her, I saw a really attractive girl (not as beautiful as Jen at her healthiest but close) who asked me out on her own and initiated both what physical contact we had and the exclamation of "I love you!" It was her who also ended it, accusing me in the process of being the one who was imposing themselves.
That girl, when rejecting me, told me all the reasons why I was attractive - that my "charisma has strength" and that I "am capable of great things." She told her family that I was "just a really good person." She told me to "never change" and embraced me in public. I am sure she meant those things. Maybe she meant those things and didn't really mean the mean things, which seemed to be about completely different people in her life - but maybe it was actually the opposite. How should I know?
In the midst of this, I worked for one publication I dreamed of working for for years - Tikkun. While I don't want to reveal too much here, their budget and fiscal matters were extremely bad and on a level that was almost unbelievable when compared to the image I had as a kid for a longstanding publication like them.
Another friend also went out of my life around the same time, having himself become miserable and stressed by trying to live economically in one of the most expensive parts of the United States. The various mean things he said to me usually came after returning from work or having a transactional experience in which he had insufficient funds.
One of these people harmed themselves fatally in the process of leaving my life, while the others left, with their own serious problems, when I was genuinely trying to be a friend to them. This isn't my failure - this is society's failure. I am old enough to know that the United States was not always like this.
Lastly, a landlord I lived with, who has now unfriended me on Facebook (Facebook is great for childish acceptance and rejection of people) drove himself completely insane for the nearly two years I lived with him. He came equipped with a level of OCD that was exacerbated whenever he came home from work or had to make a big purchase. I think this landlord liked me but being around was a constant melee of bullshit.
The ultimate sting of heartbreak isn't that you were rejected and kept out. If you're really kept out from something, it seems elusive and separate from you. When you are very close to something and then see it drop, like a rock in the ocean, from your grasp, that's the root of pain. All the people who left me told me they loved me, were intimate and close to me when I needed it, only to be gone soon after. They weren't people I just opined after from afar. I wasn't perfect but these were the things we are supposed to work on alongside others. I wanted to and that didn't matter. As they left me, they called me "old friend," "baby," hugged me or said "we met for a reason." They're gone nonetheless and, as I mourn the loss of them, friends of mine regularly tell me of similar experiences with their spouses and partners and their friends as well. I seem to be but a sideshow in their carnival of frustration and dissolution, with the bigger episodes happening with other friends. I tried with them. They decided otherwise.
Barack Obama, whatever you think of him as president, was elected as the first African American president - one with an African name no less. I remember his election and hearing even very conservative friends remark about how monumental it is. Years later, we live in a period of Black Lives Matter, of a terrorism problem even worse than the Bush era and of the looming threat of a dissolution of the democratic society that made Obama's election possible in the first place.
The society is broken. It doesn't really matter how much effort I put in to people or enterprises - it has been set up like this. When genuine love is expressed in the system, it's an outburst of humanity that is soon stomped out by the ugliness of our capitalist system.
This country is dead to me. I don't think the disappointments and frustrations that I have experienced have anything to do with me. I could blame my epilepsy, which compromises me in some ways but that I have dealt with for nearly 30 years, and I may genuinely have had traits of Asperger's as I grew up. I have witnessed horrible arguments wherever I have gone, from McDonald's to a hostel I've visited.
I can't relate to the people who vote for Donald Trump, just like I can't relate to the people who came in and out of my life, when once people were fairly steady. These were choices that they all made, regardless of me. Like the people who left my life even when I tried harder than I ever had to be their friend, there is some negative zeitgeist beyond me that pulled them out. The human nature of fight or flight took hold with them - as they fight to make it in this broken system, I have flown the coup - participating in it only to the level that I absolutely must to survive.
I think there is a very real possibility that Donald Trump could become president. Trump is a cheap con artist. Like all con artists, he is offering the easy way out of systematic problems. Fascism is the ultimate con - fascism has never worked. Fascist leaders never die of old age - they always are executed or put in front of a tribunal. It promises a world that cannot exist and results in the exact opposite of what was promised. Despite all its horrific effort, the end result of Nazi Germany was the State of Israel and the widening of the Soviet Union's influence. A Trump presidency could result in a total switch on how we normally perceive the world, with developing countries like India or China taking center stage with the United States a sad third world country that they intervene in and take pity on. The people of the United States are a people that think they have tried everything but the cheapest solutions to problems and seen little to nothing in return - they may not see any reason to hold back now.
I have been exploring ways to leave with family. I am not optimistic - from what I have seen, I have no reason to not believe that something like what happened in Germany - a swift, direct outburst of a people's hate and frustration - could indeed happen here and possibly worse. I don't want to be here when this country tries the really cheap solutions of fascism. I am only here because I was born here and it's not easy to leave. I would happily leave this shithole of a country like the friends who left me, and without the niceties. Never again.