Laura Pritchett: It’s time to move on
Writers on The Range
In November, the election results were still reverberating in the air as the supermoon reverberated in the sky and I sat outside on my deck, wrapped in a blanket, and imagined ahead to Jan. 20 and a new president. Then I opened my eyes and stared at the glowing orb, hanging over my little valley in northern Colorado, and felt the echoing recoil in the air, a collective gasp for air.
The elections felt like a gut-punch for many of us. A lot of my neighbors had dedicated long hours to making sure that Colorado, a swing state, went blue. We succeeded but we lost the larger fight, and still it feels as if we are not breathing, even with this moon hanging above us, reminding us of larger patterns.
A particular memory keeps rising for me since the election, a buried body-memory, for why would this moment keep coming up, one that I haven’t recalled in years? I was bucked off a horse when I was 16 or so, the horse spooked by the buzz of a rattlesnake. When I landed in the tall grass I remember thinking something along the lines of: “Oh! This is what they mean by gut-punched!” That moment was, perhaps, the first time I’d been hurt enough to feel that sensation of asphyxiation, of not being able to get any oxygen into the body. But I also had a larger sensation of trying to stand up quickly because the horse was spooked and rearing and I didn’t know where the snake was. There was danger, and I had to stand at the exact same moment that I could not stand.
That’s exactly how I felt back in November, and how I feel now — filled with the urgent need to stand up without enough breath to do so. I realized, while sitting under the moon, that the horseback ride of my 16th year was my last real ride. Since then it’s only been old or trail horses because that one injury was enough to take me off horses for good.
I don’t want this election to do the same. To turn me away from it all, bitterly muttering about the nation, the whopping 47 percent of folks who didn’t vote, while I also feel this need to acknowledge that the things I care about — the environment, tolerance, mindfulness, literature — are apparently not what so many others seem to care about.
It’s tempting. When you get knocked down so hard, it’s hard to get back up. I thought of that as I dragged myself to dance class today. Though I am a klutz, often awkward in my body, I have tried to go once a week for the past few years. This time the group of middle-aged women stood around waiting as if in a stupor, hangdog.
Our teacher walked into the room, looked around and said, “I know. … But the first thing anyone must do when one is injured is to feel it in the body. Get grounded. Feel whatever you’re feeling and operate from a place of grounded strength. Breathe air into what you are feeling.” And so we danced a routine that was meant to ground us to the earth. It was a sad dance, but at least we were breathing and moving.
I will try to remain grounded to the earth and continue to use the moon as my temporal marker. I always have. “By the next full moon, I’ll have the windows washed,” I say. Or, “In two moons, I’ll be done with my novel.” A character in my new novel says, “By the next full moon, I’ll be dead.”
By the next full moon, we will have inaugurated a new president and seen millions of marchers standing up for equality, tolerance and women’s rights. And soon there will be Winter Solstice, a time to come together with hope for a season of growth, and then Spring Equinox, in late March, which is when, I promise myself, I’ll have air in my lungs.
Laura Pritchett is a contributor to Writers on the Range, an opinion service of High Country News (hcn.org). She is a writer whose latest novel is “The Blue Hour,” set in an isolated Colorado community.