The Morning After

I woke up this morning feeling like I got hit by a truck, which is at least partially due to the fact that I got hit by a truck last night. 


When I was coming into Providence on the commuter rail around 9:45, things were already looking bad.  Trump was pulling ahead in Florida and North Carolina, and it was beginning to look like he could actually win.  I got on my bike and started riding home.  As I rode past a gas station on North Main St, a black Dodge Ram suddenly pulled out of the parking lot and into my right hip, sending me sprawling onto the pavement.  I hopped up and dragged the bike to the curb. I immediately sat down and leaned against a telephone pole while I figured out what just happened.

My shoulder hurt, as did my hip, but I felt right away that I was basically fine.  I never saw him coming until the last moment.  At the moment the truck hit me, I remember having a thought along the lines of, “Well, this is really happening. I figured this might happen at some point.” I was wearing a helmet and and lights in the front and the back, as well as a reflective leg cuff on my right ankle, but I found myself immediately thinking about the things I could have done differently. In a minute or two the adrenaline wore off, and I felt pretty calm.

A guy got out of the truck and asked me about my injuries.  He called the cops and waited until they arrived.  He offered to give me a ride home, and we loaded my bike in the back of his truck.  He was very nice and even offered to pay for my demolished cell phone, which directly absorbed the hit to my hip pocket.

When I got home around 11, Meghan and her friend were sitting on the floor watching CNN.  They looked worse than I did.  By that point it was looking very likely that Trump was going to win.  I stayed up late enough to see that shocking reality slam into the country.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty tender.  It is clear that a man with very little respect for Constitutional rights like the First Amendment will the most powerful politician in the country.  It’s clear that a demagogue who promotes baseless conspiracy theories and scapegoats marginalized classes of people will be our public leader.  We know that a simpleton who denies climate science and brags about never reading a book or listening to experts will take the reigns at a time of unprecedented urgency of the climate crisis, and an insecure man who overreacts to any perceived slight will control our nuclear arsenal.  It has also become clear this morning that something is definitely wrong with my shoulder, and I should go see a doctor.

This is going to be painful for a while, but I think we’re gonna make it.  Throughout my career as an activist, everywhere I went in this country I’ve talked with folks who have been building community resilience.  Since at least the end of 2009, when it became clear that it was too late to stop climate change, we’ve talked about our ability to rebuild a better world in the ashes of this one.  Now that work begins in earnest.  The bough has broken.  The cradle has fallen.  No use holding onto the past anymore.  We’ve got a new world to build.

So this morning, at our house we set about rebuilding.  We had a plasterer come in to repair some water damaged sheet rock near our front door.  Once he pulled down the plaster, he found that the studs and structural wood inside the wall were all rotten and crumbling.  He pulled off a piece of stud with his fingers and it crumbled in his hand.  We can touch the vinyl siding from inside the house.  He said the whole front wall of our house is structurally unsound and will have to be rebuilt.  He was very nice and apologetic as he left, with our front wall still ripped open.


In less than 24 hours, my body, my house, and my country have all been shattered, and things will probably get worse before they get better.  I still feel strangely calm.  I'm pretty sure we can handle this.

Showing 5 reactions

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  • Christine Gardener
    commented 2016-12-17 13:38:05 -0500
    I also feel strangely calm, Tim. And we have no where to go (only one planet) so we will deal with this. I think the calm comes from facing whatever is coming at us. No looking away. No being a deer in the headlights. Still we are all living each moment on the brink of a precipice and that RAM can hit us out of no where. But climate change is not coming from no where. Thank you so much for your inspiration and hard work! Hope your shoulder is ok!
  • Rev. Fred Small
    commented 2016-11-13 05:47:05 -0500
    This is, bar none, the best and most helpful thing I’ve read on the election. Glad you’re okay, Tim. God bless you. God bless us all.
  • Jed Bickman
    commented 2016-11-09 17:02:14 -0500
    I got doored off my bike on North Main Street in Providence, probably right around where you got hit.
  • Katie Larsell
    commented 2016-11-09 15:47:09 -0500
    Oh dear God. Dry rot. You are living a metaphorical dreamscape.
  • Terry Tempest Williams
    commented 2016-11-09 11:22:27 -0500
    No, you could not make this up. This is the truth and metaphor colliding in your body that doesn’t lie. Thank you for sharing the force of your life, heal, my beautiful friend, and we will all heal with you. Good god, a RAM truck. I do love this life and thank you for being a radiant joy within it. Love love love, Terry