If Trump is elected this year, I’m moving to the sticks. Goodbye big city, hello boondocks. I’ll be looking for a town so tiny and moribund that not even the Donald can degrade it more.
I’m thinking something I can afford, say a river town with shanties, probably in the Midwest where I’m from. There are plenty of tiny burgs along the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers, for example, with populations of no more than 1500 where I can hole up and ride out the heinous Trump administration. I’ll sit on my wooden front porch, rotten and warped as it may be, and watch the river roll by, holding my head in my hands. “It’s not our country anymore,” I’ll say to my dog Colin, as he lies motionlessly, almost breathlessly, at my feet. “I don’t know who it belongs to now.”
Of course I’d prefer fancier surroundings. The city apartment I have now isn’t bad at all, near my work and lots of nightlife. But I don’t have the funds to follow Whoopi and Babs to Spain or Portugal or whatever beautiful European coastal regions stars like that’ll be going to, to avoid Trump’s wrath. I wish I could go with them, but I can barely afford the airfare. They won’t miss me, of course, and I’ll do my best not to miss them, though it will be hard. They’re my kind of folks.
The town I choose, whatever it’s called, will likely be dying former ironworkers or coal miners and their tubercular wives, abandoned by the global economy and by their grown children. Or dirt-poor farmers too proud to accept ethanol subsidies. Not much affluence, not much hope, lots of drugs. I’m 31 and in good health, and Colin and I have many long days left to plant ourselves on that porch on Main Street, the ramshackle one I envision, hopefully down by the river, about three blocks from the shuttered mill or rusted foundry where everyone used to work. I’ll wave a somber hello to those who, like me, have escaped Trump’s mania, and we’ll exchange hushed greetings at the Dollar Store. We’ll all smile timidly into our plates at the Sunday spaghetti supper. There’s no question of the town becoming great again; it can’t. Its greatest claim to fame is being home to the first concrete street in America, built in 1935, or a cannonball factory that bolted its doors in 1865, or some such historical glitz. It will never reach that height again, with or without our mad new president.
I’ve never lived in a small town, and it surprises even me that I’m planning to transfer to one now. But it’ll bring back memories nonetheless. My parents used to take the family to a dump like the one I’m thinking of back when my sister and I were kids; that’s probably what makes me think of living in the boonies now. The town we visited was never what you’d call great, either, and I forget the name of it: just some hamlet off Interstate 75 in northern Ohio. We visited the dime store and a burger joint — Sookies’s, I think; great burgers — where we went for lunch when we couldn’t stand another meal in our kitchen. But what were we doing there in the first place? Why the hell would my family travel to such a benighted backwater? Oh, now I remember! We were visiting a lake a few miles away and were taking a break from our waterfront cottage with its cramped quarters and spiders and no TV. We were driven to the town by pure boredom.
Not that there was nothing going on at the lake. There was an amusement park alongside a marina and — I’ll never forget — a shop where you could buy donuts at all hours except at night. The donuts were made out of special ingredients but I forget what. There was also an area on the lakefront where you could jump on a trampoline and a pizza place with a pinball machine. Man, the memories. One thing I remember clearly, and ha! — it’s a funny story too. When my sister and I visited the lake years ago, we used to get so bored sitting in our cottage that she would threaten to shave her head if our parents didn’t take us home immediately. And I’d stick gum in my hair just to pull it out. Yet the entire family looked forward to going back to this horrible lake every year.
I have no intention of going back to the lake during Trump’s reign of terror, though. I’ve heard it’s completely changed now after 20 years anyway, and not for the better, with the amusement park closed and biker gangs trolling all the restaurants. Even the cottages have folded for good. The lake will never be great again. So there’s no question of my living there, and I’m just going to have to rent an apartment or lease a shanty in a small river town, as I said, and also get a new job, thanks to Trump. The job part is kind of frightening, since I don’t think anyone in the kind of town I’m looking at has worked in decades. Still, I’m reasonably optimistic. Something always turns up in my field of abstract art sales.
If I want nightlife or excitement I can hop in my car and the drive fifty or so miles to the city. But I’m thinking I’ll be selling the car and pretty much staying indoors around the calendar. Just me and Colin and the damp walls. How does the song go? “Hello, wall. It’s me again.” Maybe a line about a porch, too.
At night I’ll turn on a little blue light in my front window to let folks know I still have hope. Folks on the river will see it and understand. It may not be the life Jon and Cher and the in-crowd will lead in France or Italy when Trump wins, but I’ll get by.
Then after Trump serves out his final term or is impeached, I’ll fly to Paris for the international celebration.