This is not the blog I thought I would be writing.
On November 8th, as the polls closed across the county, I was at the Jacob K Javits center, waiting with thousands of other Hillary supporters to usher in the first woman president. Someone who would continue the progressive platform of the Obama years, who would fight for my deeply held beliefs, and protect my friends. Someone who’s campaign message was inclusive and exciting and hopeful. Someone who had forged her own incredible path, in an amazingly independent way.
The mood all evening at the center was tense. Of course there was a joyful and celebratory mood as we all entered, but no one wanted to count their victories too soon. There was too much on the line in this election. There was an undertone of anxiety, waiting for Clinton’s victory to pop the valve and release the anger and depression that the election season had made us feel. We never got that celebration.
As it became clear that her path to victory was narrowed to an improbable path, people started leaving. The cameras we saw on the inside of the convention center showed a crowd that remained, but was more quiet and pensive. Outside where I was, it was eerily silent. People were glued to the screens willing the results to turn around. And they didn’t, and they didn’t, and they didn’t. It was as if instead of the celebratory popping of a balloon, all we got was a slow and sad release of cold air.
The friends I had made in the security line were simply gone one time when I turned around from the screen, and my coworkers were inside somewhere. I suddenly was very alone in a city across the county, sometime around midnight or 1am, too anxious to pick something up from the food truck, and increasingly heartbroken. I talked to Justin a few times, and decided I would continue to wait it out. If Hillary was going to speak, I was going to be there. I was going to see the candidate whom I so admire through to the very end, no matter how bitter. I wanted to hear her calm clarity that she is always able to manage in situations that feel very unmanageable. Instead, at 2 am, John Podesta came on stage, and told us to go home. The last little bit of air came out of the balloon.
I called Justin again to cry while walking back to my hotel, not really knowing how safe my walk would be or how far I had to go. We started musing about the new leadership of the Democratic party that we could start supporting and encouraging to keep the seemingly 100% GOP government accountable. Names like Cory Booker came up, but I immediately burst into tears, the first I’d really let myself cry all night, and said “I know I’d love a Booker campaign, but it won’t be a woman.”
Before you get all “don’t vote for someone just because of their gender!!!!!” on me, yeah, I know. But I have been more affected and inspired by a woman running for president in such a badass way than I even thought I would be. It DOES make a difference seeing a trail being blazed for us. I feel more encouraged and entrepreneurial than I ever have in my life due to engaging in Clinton’s campaign, and I have gotten inexplicably emotional over what the loss of Clinton being publicly and unashamedly WOMAN means. I am here with tears in my eyes on my plane ride home, still fighting to come up with words to explain how this loss feels for this reason.
I feel empty, today. I feel like the sad flat balloon. I can’t move on from my grief of Clinton’s loss yet, into my full anxiety of the new administration. I haven’t had the heart to dig into the demographic voter data or to find an action plan. I am just heartbroken.
And all the while, I’m watching my dear friends react to the election with fire in their hearts. More dedicated than ever to protecting the least among us, and more ready than ever to involve themselves in non-profits and local governments. So I have hope. I have fierce hope. I believe in what is coming. But for now, I’m going to let myself cry over the dramatically different future that my country now has than the one I was so sure we were headed towards. It will take some time for me to reorient myself in a country I thought I knew, but now feels a little uncertain.
I will take Hillary’s concession speech to heart, and I will work to echo her words. I will build on her ideas and carry them forward into my communities. I will re-read the text of that elegant and honest speech when I’m feeling defeated, and will move forward relentlessly as she has.
Above all, I am so glad I stuck it out Tuesday night until on a cold curb by myself watching with knots in my stomach. I’m glad I came prepared with hope in my heart, bought a new jacket and a new battery pack just for livestreaming her victory speech. I am honored to have been a member of her coalition, and I’m so glad I clicked on so many of those stupid donation email buttons they sent out all the time. I know her campaign in itself has moved us forward. I know the wins by women and women of color particularly in the senate are moving us forward.
Friends who feel threatened by the new administration, please reach out and tell me how I can be an ally for you. We will get through this together, but only because we are Stronger Together. <3