I miss John Boehner. I miss Harry Reid, “Plan B” and Eric Cantor. I even miss Donald Trump and Mitt. I miss the terrible anxiety of the fiscal cliff, and the push and shove of the hordes rushing through the mall. This week I pulled back the sheets to reveal that I am not only a political junkie, but an unabashed stress junkie.
I had thought that stress was what gave me my little heart attack two years ago. It wasn’t. I know now that It was the calm and peace of summer, the lazy charm of soft breezes by the lake and chirping of flocks of the state bird.
Once the tsunami of election tweets started coming in, I began to heal, take deep, delicious, tortured breaths, and arrange my pile of newspapers. Each morning I started my daily run through of political shows, both from the crazy right and the furious fist-jamming left. I was healing, and I was excited and joyful. The true meaning of being pure Irish began to break back through. We are a people for whom rain is the natural condition. When things get peaceful and calm and when all men join together in harmony, we start a revolution, running in the streets, handing out pamphlets calling for the firing of one, the impeachment of another.
We like strikes and tension, songs of revolution. We like building bronze statues of political losers and angry poets. Nirvana. For weeks now I was thriving on the fury of the secretary of state appointment, the chaos in Egypt and Syria. There was the tension of the last-minute gifts, the horror of finding a bill that had gotten tucked away with Christmas cards and had to be rushed to the mail box.
Rushing to Portland to meet the kids before their plane landed, and left them standing alone sipping cold Starbucks filled my veins with crisis juice. My hair stood on end, my eyes glittered with passion. I was cooking and pulsing through the cold December days, leaving plumes of steam behind me. Sweet days.
Then the calm of the final moments descended. People began singing carols. Santa went into hiding before his journey. Everyone began whispering. It was almost Christmas eve. The soft light of evening fell on everything and everyone. They were all so sweet and gentle. Good will and peace on earth. I started biting my nails. What was wrong with these people? Didn’t they know the Middle East was burning down?
Had they forgotten the ancient Chinese warning, “See the man who is laughing. He has not yet heard the news.”
“Isn’t it nice?” they chimed. “No traffic, no crowds.” No traffic? I love traffic, the thicker the better. I love the crowds, the long lines, the screaming kids and blaring horns. I needed that. I needed anxiety.
I’ve always been like this, from childhood on. The weeks leading up to Christmas were bustling, noisy and full of tension. Christmas eve was a jamboree of shouting, drinking, hugging, kissing, tearing of paper, spilling of drinks. Sometimes there were tears, and then forgiveness, chewing and sometimes vomiting. But it was big and powerful. Then Christmas morning, it was all over. A silence fell on the house. Even the snow looked gray.
I have always hated what I considered the “boring” holidays: Easter, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving. Those days when everything closed, even the movie theaters where I lived, especially the movie theaters. The saloons were shuttered, groceries locked.
Yes, I know, I’m nuts. We’ve already cleared that one up. Even today, I love waking to the sound of traffic hissing by, the music of buzz saws, the pounding of hammers, as workers dress up old houses down the street. It seems to annoy neighbors. Not me. To me, it’s the heartbeat of commerce, America’s pulse. I love slamming store doors, customers shouting out orders, cash registers chiming away.
Now it’s back, it’s all back. Fox News is pounding the right-wing drums, Chris Matthews is screaming, Rachel Maddow is chanting the liberal carols.
The fiscal cliff looms. Taxes might go up or down. Pandemonium hovers over Wall Street, a maelstrom threatens the House, bedlam creeps along the floors of the Senate like fetid smoke.
Will there be a free for all? Bedlam? Havoc? My deadlines threaten me, as I waste time Facebooking my political daydreams. The Earth is awake again. Oh, joy! Oh, jubilation!
J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.