Recently I attended a beautiful wedding at the Silverado Country Club in the Napa Valley. The ceremony was held under the Oak trees near the golf course and the bride was gorgeous. Everyone was beautiful and happy and wearing their best. In my hand-me-down designer dress and borrowed designer shoes I looked like just another well heeled member of the club. No one could tell the only thing new was my undies, right?
When I first arrived at the country club, I parked my old Honda next to BMW’s and Mercedes Benz and walked to the front door of the mansion/club house. Walking across the green lawn toward the tall front doors I felt several people staring at me. What, haven’t you ever seen a woman in flip flops and a “Drama Queen” apron? The staff directed me to the suit where the bride and her entourage were getting ready. As mom’s best friend, my job was to keep mom calm and hand her tissues as needed. I watched the bride and her bridesmaids be transformed by an army of professional stylists. Amidst the chaos, the bride sat happy and serene, completely in control of everything. Amazing this was the same girl I met when she was 13 and surly.
Sipping expensive champagne, I kept my apron on so I wouldn’t spill anything on my hand-me-down dress and felt utterly out of my element. What the hell was I doing there surrounded by such wealth? Their jewelry was real and their shoes cost more than my monthly grocery budget. Everyone was staring at me, looking down their noses, aware my necklace was from Cost-Plus.
Or were they?
Were these smiling women really treating me like “the help”? Or was I so insecure being in a world I couldn’t dream of affording I assumed they disliked me? Did I dislike them?
Actually, every single person there was kind and considerate. When I ran out of champagne three bridesmaids asked if I needed more. The bride and her new husband were happy to see me. Everyone from the staff to the wealthiest guest was genuinely thoughtful and interesting. Not a single person treated me with contempt. And I liked everyone I met.
I walked in to the Silverado Country club assuming I didn’t fit in and would be ignored. I decided before I arrived that the people would be rude and I’d have nothing in common. Instead I met interesting people who were there because they loved the bride and groom. Just like me. We cheered and toasted and laughed and told stories together. The only one who thought I wasn’t good enough to be there was me.
Polarization doesn’t just effect politics, it also effects friendships.
Recently I’ve seen a lot of chatter on Facebook and Twitter about unfriending/unfollowing people who like Donald Trump. Many people I know have said “A fan of Trump is no friend of mine.” This disturbs me.
I dislike Trump. I would love it if he would stop opening his mouth and saying ridiculous things that make people worship him. And I’m fearful of the hatred his words have fueled. Targeting an entire religion and ethnic group with mistrust and fear is dangerous. Anyone remember WW2? It’s a cliche to compare people to Hitler, but there is a frightening historical similarity between the United States of today and Germany of the 1930’s. People are looking for a savior, someone to “make America great again.” It was the same in Germany in 1929.
Donald Trump and his followers scare me. However, I will not turn my back on a friend or acquaintance who admires him. I will not feed the polarization that threatens my country. Instead, I will try to understand why my friend likes Trump. I will try to engage in conversation, keep communication open, reach out and combat fear and stigma one connection at a time.
“But if you talk to that person, aren’t you supporting them, and in so doing, supporting Trump?” you ask.
No. I do not like, trust, admire or even consider Donald Trump a human being. He represents everything I loath in my country: ignorant wealth. But if I refuse to engage with someone who thinks Donald Trump is the greatest thing since frozen orange juice, how am I different from any extremist in America? Extremists cling to their own world view and hate what they don’t understand. I refuse to hate people.
Even Donald Trump.
Feeling run down? Hassled? Angry every time the laundry hamper fills? Then you need to pack up some clothes you no longer wear and go to a Swap-O-Rama party. The more laughing women the better. Unless you’re a man, then all that estrogen might be scary. Because my daughter is medically fragile, we tend to live a very different life than other people. I feel like I live on a different planet most of the time. But I forced myself to go to my friend’s clothing swap party. The house was packed with women I barely knew digging through racks and racks of clothes other people had brought. I hung up the items I’d brought, grabbed a glass of wine and started “shopping.” Within 30 minutes I felt comfortable with all those strangers and had a fantastic time. We laughed, tried on clothes, joked and teased each other, talked about our kids, our partners and our pets, and had far more fun than I thought a group of women could have. Mostly, I realized I’m not so different from other women. My child is different, but we all share the same hopes and dreams for the people we love. We all fight for our children. We all need to laugh. And we all desire a pair of red heels.