Yesterday the knot of despair, anger, and heartache that has been clenched in my chest for four years began to release. And it feels so damn good. I took so many deep breaths with long exhales, enjoying a profound lightness. I will not take that feeling for granted for a long time.
Heading into Saturday I was feeling cautiously hopeful that we would soon see Joe Biden and Kamala Harris declared the election winners. Then it seemed like it could still be a couple of days. Plus there was the looming threat of legal battles that could delay the whole thing. I was sitting in the car in our garage about to go to Trader Joe's when I got a text message. Then two more. Something was happening.
With disbelief and shaking hands I opened the FiveThirtyEight blog on my phone. Then NPR. Then the New York Times. More text messages. Joe Biden is declared the winner. Kamala Harris is the first woman elected vice president. Tears. I just stared at my phone absorbing the moment. Then I went inside to make sure Chris had heard and to share the moment with him. I walked in a daze to find him in the front room. "Did you hear?" I said through a huge smile and tears, feeling somewhat out of body.
In reverse symmetry, four years ago I had sat on the floor of that same room late into the night watching what felt like the unbelievable unfold in front of me. Chris had gone to bed but came to check on me, bleary eyed. Sobbing I said, "Chris, he won."
My parents are in town (and got negative covid tests!) and have the boys for the weekend so it was just Chris, Maeve, and me yesterday. It was a gift to have the extra bandwidth to revel in what for us was a glorious and historic day. We texted with friends and family and relished every news update. We took long walks with Maeve. Maeve took two great naps and we both got to just relax, Chris watching a show he's obsessed with (The Haunting of Hill House) and me Christmas shopping. So good. Neither of us really care to drink any more but we dusted off a bottle of champagne that I think was left over from Chris's 40th birthday three years ago (haha) and had a toast.
A cool front blew through and we took Maeve for another walk, reveling in the cool air and the political winds of change. We stopped to chat with neighbors outside for a bit. After dinner (roasted brussels sprouts, potatoes, and field roast with mustard sauce) we sat outside by the fire, bundled up against the cool wind, to listen to Joe and Kamala to speak. Maeve was getting sleepy before they started so I took her inside for pajamas and nursing. I sat in our red armchair to nurse Maeve and listened with an AirPod to Kamala's address. To hear her tell children, especially girls, of color and children across the country that anything is possible made my heart swell and tears come to my eyes. I put Maeve to bed, made a mug of hot chocolate, and rejoined Chris by the fire to finish listening to Joe Biden speak. He spoke about working for all Americans. He used the words climate change, trans people, and racial justice. These are words we have not heard the American president use except in a derogatory way for the past four years and that felt so damn good.
I have seen a sentiment shared by many people who voted for Biden-Harris that they feel disappointment that so many people voted for Trump. They feel that the Democratic blue wave didn't materialize. I don't see it that way. Arizona voted for Biden. Georgia (!!!) voted for Biden. Pennsylvania. Michigan. Wisconsin. The voter turnout necessary to make that happen can only be seen as a wave and a mandate. And if we did not still use the antiquated electoral college system the winner would have been decisive on Tuesday night because millions more people voted against the president, his rhetoric, and tactics than voted for him.
Our task now is to move forward together. If you voted Biden-Harris I would urge you to read this article, We Still Don't Really Understand Trump – Or America which suggests why the Democrat's message does not resound with millions of Americans. We must stay engaged in our political process at the local and national level. There's still so much work to be done. But now I feel excited to do it. I am breathing all the sighs of relief and have renewed energy to do that work under the leadership of two people who I respect and believe in.
November 7, 2020 was a really good day.