Today, I cry.
In the middle of the night on November 9, I am startled awake by my son crying in his bed. I lie half awake; he falls back asleep. A loud sound startles me. A text. I look at the time. 2:00 a.m. I quickly pick up my phone and open Safari. Trump won PA. Trump won. Donald Trump is officially the President of the United States. I cry. I toss and turn until I finally fall asleep again, hoping I will wake up from a nightmare.
I open my eyes again at 6:00 a.m.; I check my phone. This is not a dream. A noise from a car pierces the quiet fog in my bedroom. It’s raining. It’s drab. Dreary, just like my soul. I am paralyzed in bed. My arms are heavy. My head is working something out. Tears slowly fall through the creases of my eyes. The room is cold. The blankets no longer provide usual comfort. “Kris?” I whisper to my husband. “I know,” he replies. “I know.”
I stand up. I stumble into the shower. I attempt to wash away this feeling. I am sick. I let my hair air dry; I throw it up in a bun. I allow my outside to reflect my inside.
My friends text me. “How are you holding up?” they ask. “I can’t believe this,” they say. They want comfort. We all feel the same. We all envisioned a different tomorrow. We all hoped for something else. I am disillusioned. I keep refreshing the browser. Maybe something will change. Maybe suddenly I’ll wake up. While I drive to my train I cry. On the train I occupy myself. I observe the other passengers. I wonder how they feel today. Are they proud? Are they satisfied? Or, are they scared and sad.
As I walk to work, I let the rain consume me. I want to disappear. I want to crawl back into bed and I want to stay there. And, through it all, I wonder why. Why do I feel this way? Why this time? My chosen candidate hasn’t always won. I’ve been disappointed. I’ve been nervous. I’ve shaken my head disapprovingly at America’s choices before. But I have never cried. Why this time?
I know this time is different. I know this time I cared more than I had before. Because I care about people. Because I care about people outside of myself. Because I care about human rights. I care about dignity. Morality. I care about choice. I care about equality. I care about opportunity. I care about more than my own middle-class, white-privileged bubble. And, I understand. I understand what this victory means. This victory wasn’t about policy. It was about racism and sexism. It was about political incorrectness. It was about Billy Bob and the likes hating our ever-changing, evolving world and wanting to “Make America White Again.” It was about the closeted racists and bigots who “finally” no longer had to contain their hate to the local pub. It was about those who brushed off hate speech because they weren’t black, Muslim, Latino; they were not affected. It was about shaking up Middle America from complacency it placed itself into, and then blamed the rest of us. It was about fear. It wasn’t about policy. It was personal. That’s why I cry.
I can see right through you. I can see the “change” you want.
“No more black guys as Presidents,” you shout.
“Let’s put those ‘nasty women’ back in their place,” you squeal.
“Let’s halt and reverse progress,” you demand.
“Let’s make America White again,” you don’t say.
But, I live with a 7-year-old girl. A girl who is particularly attuned to today’s world. A girl who came home and told me that Donald Trump is a bad man. A girl who asked, “why does he say bad things about people?”
I live with a 7-year-old girl who panicked while watching the Electoral map fill with red. Who cried out every time a state was called for Trump. Who wanted to see “a girl President.” A girl who innocently asked, “why were all of the Presidents boys?”
I live with a 7-year-old who is watching the world. She is watching how people are treating each other. She is learning right from wrong. A girl whom I teach kindness to. A girl whom I teach patience to. A girl whom I teach respect to. This girl is watching the world.
This morning this girl sat next to me. She shook her head and whispered, “this is bad.” This morning I told this girl not to worry. I told her the world will be okay and love always wins. I told her everything I did not feel. I assured her of everything I did not believe. I lied because I want her to not feel as defeated as I do. I lied because I want her to believe people are good and people are kind.
For the sake of my 7-year-old girl, I hope the hateful rhetoric will now end, despite the damage it has already done. For the sake of all of our children, who are smart, who are starting to understand, I hope we move on with grace and compassion.
I cry today because I realize half of the country supports hatred. I cry today because I fear for those who were born not white, nor straight, nor male. I cry today because I know this wasn’t about policy. I cry today because this is new. This is unreal. This is horrifying.
But if I can lie to my 7-year-old, I can lie to myself. It will be okay. Everything will be okay.