BRIARCLIFF, NEW YORK--We are not Trump supporters.
The night of his election I watched the map fill red and imagined it blood. The morning the decision was released I cried freely. A school trip to Monterrey was clouded with pre-election fear, and two weeks afterward were shrouded in the black of clothes made for mourning.
In my pajama drawer is a well-worn Hillary ‘16 t-shirt. On the mantle, a postcard suggesting we “Make America Think Again.” In Barcelona, we weren't proud of our English.
For months, we disparaged the direction in which Trump was heading our country. On July 4th, however, we celebrated beneath a Trump-gilded sky.
That the fireworks we saw were those put out by Trump National Golf Course, Westchester was not an issue of allegiance, but one of proximity. This summer I'm conducting research in New York City. A Metro-North ride away, I’m staying at my grandparents’ in Briarcliff, New York, a river town-adjacent suburb.
Most of Briarcliff is what you'd expect of a quiet suburb which describes itself as being “located in affluent Westchester County, [and] nestled along the historic and scenic Hudson River.” Stone bridges, both of the ice-cubish 1800s style, and the more modern and Deco designs flank the highways. Roads and homes, narrow and garage-less, respectively, reflect pre-auto construction.
Hydrangeas cluster well-kept lawns, gothic churches—one of which bearing an infamous Blue Chagaal window—bear the elements for God, and, like sunbathers, wear spots for their efforts. The high school mascot is the brown bear. The unofficial mascot, the golden retriever.
A converted fire-house houses a diner dripping with mint chocolate chip ice cream and Dali’s clocks. Boys wear Topsiders whose leather mirrors that of their ancestral couches, and shirts marked with names—Hamilton, Colgate, Harvard—old enough to, and likely to have educated their great-grandparents.
There are three coffee shops, none of which lack in business, and all of which boast a $4.95 range iced chai latte—cinnamon optional, by request. The post office recognizes stamps’ year by look. Oak and maple shaded preserve land occupies non-working mothers in Lycra and aviators, courtesy the Rockefeller’s usual moneyed and well-meaning foresight.
Briarcliff is an ordinary town. Exceeding its largest property owner, that is.
Trump National Golf Course is a beautiful, green affair: a quilt of jade and hunter, olive and veridian, pear and emerald which neighbors the less ostentatious, however stately Presbyterian Church. Currently it is in lawsuit with the town of Briarcliff for tax evasion. Despite the lawsuit, the yearly fireworks commenced as usual. We, and a motley group of other Briarcliff residents watched them from Mrs. Green’s health grocery store parking lot.
Some of us watched in lawn chairs, others in pick-ups. One man appeared to have somewhat disapproved of the nature of the viewing session, or, likelier, of the name on the check responsible for the fluorescent sputtering and popping, because he, hidden by a fogged dashboard, remained in his red Honda Pilot.
A dog yapped. A couple held hands and I momentarily thought of my boyfriend before containing to strain to read Salinger by the yam-hued light of the backseat. Someone doled Red Solo cups; somebody else scooped from a carton whose rice-black constellations suggested vanilla.
My grandparents briefly quipped that the spectators who had overflown their pick-ups like impatiently poured soda must have been from Ossining, Briarcliff’s grungier neighbor. But when the fireworks ended they, despite their sleeker shark convertible, despite their cleaner jazz music clapped as loudly and in unison with these supposedly grungier peers.
Despite recent turns of events, we were still content in the night. We were, as one might be at the birthday party of a recently derailed friend or relative, still present for and sincere in the celebration.
There were cardboard-tasting cones and costume-suggestive bunting. There was the thin pleasure of Lay’s and the tasteless rainbows of extra sprinkles.
There were star- ridden advertisements we knew were not driven by Coca-Cola’s romantic jaunts of patriotism, but which we accepted as being so promoted. We lied to each other, and allowed each other’s lies.
It was America’s day of independence, and we were for one day together paused from our usual pastime of seeking independence of one another.
Maybe we, as we rationalized, really were in the belly of the beast instantaneously smelling the heat of the expense Trump undertook to celebrate our country and hating, clear-headedly, what Trump was doing for and meant to that country.
Maybe, in Mrs. Green’s parking lot we were renegades aboard a Blank Trojan Horse. Maybe, however, we just had an overtly hypocritical Fourth of July.
We drove home silent but for the moan of early jazz. We attempted a Carvel run and found it closed. At home, we ate whipped cream and berries from China too delicate for the activity—or for any earthly activity, for that matter—and put ourselves to sleep with open windows and stained teeth.
In the morning, we watched and appended our usually ruthless liberal commentary to Channel 9’s reporting. In collective understanding it was a blip, a momentary and forgiven lapse in judgement. It was as strange as to have been a dream, and as the stuff of dream we reconcieved it.
On July 5th, it was over. The event’s reality was a subject never convened on.