Just the Beginning: November 8, 2017

Dear Mr. VP,

Last year on this day, I woke up with incredible hope. Hope that the long national nightmare of Trump/Pence would be over soon, and that you’d fade into oblivion.

I took G to vote. I wore a pantsuit, like we were all supposed to do. I filled in the bubble and I cried, like I always do when I vote. Voting is such a huge responsibility. I don’t take it lightly.

As we left, G said, “My mommy is happy because she voted for a girl for president for the first time!” He was right. He did a little “Hillary Clinton!” chant as we walked out of the school gym, and I was a bit afraid he was going to get us in trouble for campaigning too close to a polling station. I ignored the pick-up truck in the parking lot with the giant Trump sign.

I spent the day worried, but not all that worried. On my lunch break I went and picked up a 12-pack of Narragansett beer, which I figured I’d drink in celebration as I watched returns by myself after G was in bed, and then have plenty left over to celebrate in the days to come, as well.

We took a picture at school of all of us wearing our pantsuits.

After I put Giles to bed, I live-streamed MSNBC. I drank a beer. Things seemed okay.


And then things didn’t seem okay. I kept watching, and things kept going poorly, and I felt like I was in descending into some sort of dystopia. I thought to myself, “I will go to bed, and when I wake up, this will not be true.” So I went to bed before it was called.

Around 3:30 AM I woke up and made the mistake of checking the news. The headlines screamed it. It was true, and sleeping had not made it untrue.

In that moment, lying in a dark bedroom, my child sleeping peacefully next to me, I went completely cold. It was like I had ice running through me. I looked at G and all I could think was, what sort of world is going to be left for you? What sort of reality are you going to grow up in? What progress is about to be undone, and how will it impact you? And how am I going to keep it together for you as we confront all that this victory means for the two of us, our neighbors and friends, our country, and the world?

I held my baby and I sobbed. Giant, gut-wrenching, body-shaking sobs. I didn’t sleep for the rest of the night. I just laid there in the dark.

In the morning, I made two phone calls, too early. I called my dad, who told me it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought (something I’m pretty sure he now disagrees with). I called G’s dad, and frantically told him I was going to need his permission to get G a passport in case shit hit the fan. I thought about the border crossing scene in The Handmaid’s Tale, something I later sobbed in front of as it played out in the screen adaptation.

G asked why I was crying. I told him Donald Trump had won the election. He said, “But we voted for Hillary.” I couldn’t answer. I just cried some more.

We drove to school, where it felt like a funeral. I dropped G off at his classroom door and he clung to me. I sobbed some more. His teacher told me it was important that we all love each other, and teach our children to do the same. It wasn’t much of a salve.

I walked upstairs to my office. I swear that in a year and a half of working there, I never encountered a day with that many screaming children at drop-off. Off-kilter parents equal off-kilter children.

I was shell-shocked. Then I mourned. I feel like I’ve spent a year mourning.

It has been as bad as I expected. Worse, really.

I spend so many moments on edge. I wait to hear what dangerous and inhumane thing is being done now. I consider throwing my phone across the room every time I open Twitter. I look at the haunted looks of my friends and family and I think, “When will this end?”

And then, we had another election.

In Helena, Montana, a Liberian refugee became the state’s first Black mayor.

Ralph Northam crushed Ed Gillespie in Virginia.

Danica Roem will become the first openly transgender person to serve in a U.S. Statehouse, and beat a guy who wrote an anti-trans bathroom bill.

DSA members got elected to positions all over the country.

Ravi Bhalla will be the first turbaned Sikh mayor in New Jersey. 

Maine became the first state to expand Medicaid by ballot.

New Jersey’s replacement for Chris Christie is a Democrat.

Andrea Jenkins will be the first openly transgender Black woman to hold public office in the U.S.

See the Chicago Tribune for a succinct win/lose list.

Today, dropping off G at school, I saw a former co-worker who mourned with me last year. As she helped G out of the car, she said, “Good things happened last night.” “I know,” I responded, smiling.

“And it’s just the beginning,” she said.

It’s just the beginning.


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