Nov 8. Election Day
I suppose today is an important day in history. Either today is the day the first female president will be elected, or a very scary chapter of American history is underway. We are watching the election results come in from CBS live from my laptop. Daijah is putting bandaids on her ankles from city hiking, Frankie is out on the fire escape, Iz is in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner. A bunch of kids with no money, no real jobs, no place in society, but heavily invested in this election.
A news reporter with her lips done comes on the screen to tell us the story of two young voters who were happy to get their “I Voted” stickers so they could get a free slice of pizza. I can’t help but think about how capitalism drives voting at even the lowest levels.
The nation is voting out of fear, and nothing good can come from that. Iz was just talking about how the world needs more love and this election is just another manifestation of that. Everyone is casting their vote to cast the opponent out. There is no compassion at the polls today. Even the vote that I casted was a reluctant one, not for the candidate, but for the group of people that are supporting her and I want to support as well.
I keep zoning out. The coloring map of the united states is being filled with red. I am unfazed. It’s going to be Clinton, even though it looks like she is down right now. Like Bernie said, and like the public knows, she is backed by billionaires. I’m old enough to know that money runs politics. There is no way, no way that Trump- an open bigot, racist, and sexist, should be taking office. Or even make it this far.
It used to make me disgusted and enraged, but now I am numb to it. I remember getting off the subway and emerging to see Newspapers with the headline taking up the entire page in big, bold, black letters “GRAB HER BY THE PUSSY.” I didn’t even flinch. That should be jarring, personal, and demoralizing but I expected it at that point. The election results are taking a long time to come in, and I go to bed when Trump has 180 votes. Staggering, scary, but I didn’t have any doubt. I was going to wake up to the first female president.
No fucking way.
Frankie woke me up, and before he said anything I knew. I felt the heaviness in the room. Outside the construction clunked along and the clangs felt more violent than productive. Steel slamming down slicing the thick tension in the air. We rolled out of bed to get coffee. The city was the greyest I’ve ever seen. People were hunched over walking with their heads down and absent stares.
The girl behind the counter had puffy red eyes and her hair pulled back. I just looked at her and said “me too.” I ran around the side of the counter and we hugged and both cried. She whispered that for the first time in a long time she was afraid to be gay, and gave me my coffee for free. I sat outside and stared at my journal, blank, unsure of what to write. I was listening to two moms chatter about what they were going to do with their kids that weekend—their dads house or out to dinner?— as if nothing had happened. They gossiped and left two empty macchiato cups behind. I stared into the void of my cup in silence, as if I could get sucked into its blackness. I held Frankie’s hand and thought about him, and my friend who is president of the Muslim Student Association at NYU, and my friend who just came out to his conservative family, and all the powerful women in my life, and how we were not only ignored this election, but blatantly belittled, dehumanized, and disrespected.
We watched the news all day. Me and my roommates passed a bucket of ice cream back and forth as if we were going through a breakup together. I realized this is truly the biggest heartbreak I have ever felt. The words emanating from my laptop speakers bled together and burned into my ears. Every ten minutes I would turn to one of them and say “I don’t believe this is happening.”
Clinton’s speech was hard to hear. She did not expect this. We did not expect this. We all held each other on the couch, a sorry mess and an ice creamed stained coffee table.
Sammy came over and we went to the Bodega. 8 people were staggering around aimlessly clustered towards the front. Almost everyone bought a pack of cigarettes and they didn’t bother to check IDs today. We gathered our doomsday supplies: orange juice and a bag of chips. The man behind the counter started speaking Spanish, lightheartedly making jokes with the other patrons about being deported. Laughs reverberated, and then silence. He shook is head and said, “I have never seen New York this sad.”
We walked back. Frankie with dark sunglasses to cover dark circles and an army jacket and a thin strand of smoke circling up around him. Sam walked somberly with a full black outfit and dark glasses and hands in her pockets.
We are mourning.
We are hurting.
But we are all feeling the pain as one.
We sat clustered around the coffee table with no music and no news reports clamoring in the background. I suggested we write poetry to heal us. Iz wrote a long piece about finding power in compassion, I wrote down Jimi’s quote “When the power of love overcomes love of power the world will know peace.” Sammy wrote “I currently have nothing to say.”
We put on jackets and walking shoes and silently made the journey to Columbus circle. People clustered around the golden statue and Ben and Jerry’s was giving out free ice cream. I looked at posters held high that said “PUSSY GRABS BACK.” And grabbed a poster from someone who was passing them around. I stared at it, back to my friends, and all the people around with voices loud, chanting things like “The people united will never be defeated,” and “Black lives matter, trans lives matter, disabled lives matter, muslim lives matter, immigrant lives matter” and “Women’s rights are human rights.” As the crowd around me started unifying their voices to say, “Love Trumps Hate,” I put the red pen to my poster and wrote, “the silent majority is not my authority.”
We went down to Union square and there were enough people to fill up the entire area and spill out to the streets. We chanted together, danced together, and someone called our attention and took the mic. She started her speech with, “JUST SO YOU KNOW, I AM A PROUD, PUERTO RICAN, BLACK, TRANS WOMAN!!!” And the crowd screamed with cheers. Exclaiming her identity in the face of a presidency that doesn’t accept the facets of herself that makes her beautiful. I teared up.
We marched 50 blocks to Trump Tower, the streets filling with people. The energy was opposite of this morning. People were smiling, skipping, hugging each other, dancing, and most importantly being there for each other.
New York came together and showed me the truest love and acceptance in the face of rage.
I’m home safe and I feel hopeful.