Letter From Scranton
Four years of Trump rage was awful. What lies beneath it is harder still.
One thing you never hear about primal screaming is how much it hurts, specifically the throat and the torso muscles. I’ve noticed that people who scoff at the idea have never tried it. They’ve never sequestered themselves away from anyone whom they might alarm, dug down into the gut, and searched for a starting point. They’ve never taken a deep breath and dived in, the exhale a stuck gear grinding to life in the diaphragm, tearing through the upper body only with great effort, vibrating the sternum, scraping the vocal cords with its metal. You don’t want it too high-pitched. This is not a cry for help. This is a war cry.
But the sound that comes is a combination between those two very things, high and then low, shrill and then gravelly. Shortly, screams give way to a keening that lasts much longer, the vein of gold in the landscape of grief, moans and snot wiping the soul clean. Alongside all the recent shocks purging themselves from the body come the oldest, most perennial ones.
This wasn’t actual primal scream therapy. I wouldn’t do that. It was just me in my car down by the lake, windows rolled up, the engine running and the heat on against the 20-degree January dusk. Afterward, as I dug through my purse for Kleenex, I could already feel the brittleness in my throat, the knotty tug in the tiny muscles between my ribs, the headache setting in. I looked around, relieved to find no one. Snow covered the parking lot, the beach, and the entire surface of the lake, a ring of dark pine trees framing all that white against a deepening sky. I got out and walked a hundred feet to where a crust of frozen slush marked the waterline. The sun had set but the horizon still glowed orange, causing me to automatically retrieve my phone from my coat and snap a picture. I kneeled on the beach, scooped up a few fistfuls of snow, and rubbed it into my swollen face and down my neck. Then I walked back to my car and decided to come home and write this.
Everyone I knew was so happy when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in: tears of joy…