The night was shocking and brought more emotion to my skin's surface than my depression and anxiety ever had before. We sat in the car and looked out opposite windows as the cab took us home. I looked south and my fiancé Garrett looked north. We were on the Queensborough Bridge headed back into Manhattan after spending six hours at our friend's in Astoria. What started as meeting a pair of friends, turned into six twenty-somethings excited to be cheering on Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Tonight was the night she was to become the first female president of the United States of America, defeating the deceitful Donald.
We began our evening in Queens with Madison and Sophie who had been watching since 4:30PM. The polls were just beginning to seesaw as we sat down at 6PM. One moment, Mrs. Clinton would be ahead in a battleground state, and the next, Mr. Trump would take it over. I'll never forget how much fun it was to watch the votes roll in. 20% of the vote in, 30%, 40%, 65%! We'd screech as more and more votes fled in from the important states. It was exhilarating. The moment we had all been waiting for, the moment when we'd have our first woman president, the all-graceful, capable and exuberant Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, it was almost here!! All the polls pointed towards this outcome and we were there to celebrate it!
Come 9 or 10 o'clock, Florida votes began to run out and Trump held an eerie lead. There were a measly 8% of Florida votes left to count, but there seemed not to be enough left for Hillary to win with. It was heartwrenching. Our chosen station was CNN and the reporters were frantic to assure us that "It is still possible!" "It's not over yet" "Hillary could still take the lead!" They'd make their predictions and foresee, "Well, if this candidate won this state, and that candidate won that state..." and, "look how many electoral college votes she could have!" It went on and on and on and on and onnnn! It was numbing and sobering and astonishing. Our eager minds grew senseless and our gazes became fixed in silence to the dark crystal ball in front of us.
I began calling my dad back on Martha's Vineyard every half hour, and with each call, his voice deepened and his tone grew weary. His vision for a safe, sure and supportive country where his two children felt free and able to be themselves and live their lives to the fullest crumbed.
Then Trump took Ohio. Screams, whales and exclamations of terror rang out from the room. The wall-to-wall red carpeting was suddenly a pool of thick blood, it was satan, they were swallowing us whole. Three young women and three young gay men. The outcome seemed grim. A normally rambunctious group became saddened and a mess.
As the clock struck midnight and the race was over in many's eyes, we caught a car home.
Greeted with, "Hi, how are you this evening?"
Garrett mustered up, "Eh, okay."
"Yes." the driver agreed.
The drive home was chilling. It was a questioning, a reckoning a daze. My Garrett was in denial. He is always so strong and knowing and able to brush anything off and move forward, but this had shaken him to the core. In complete disbelief, my mind rattled off question after question, "How could this happen?! Who would vote for this man who knows nothing about the job ahead of him? What minority human would ever trust him with their rights? How will this change my life? Will there be a WWIII? Will there be a draft? Will Garrett and I have our right to marry revoked?"
The Empire State Building was illuminated in red, white and blue as were all the other spires in the city. The skyline was bathed in patriotism, but this year it felt different. The colors didn't mean love or compassion or understanding or liberty or any form of happiness to me. The skyline appeared like a bed of needles bathed in the blood of our future children and grandchildren.
We pulled up to our building, and I had no words. Garrett was out of sorts too. I was beginning to become angry. He was beginning to need me. We were not in any position to help each other in this moment, and as I pulled ahead, through our doors and to the stairs, he yearned for a connection and an answer to all of this. What came out stunned me, "Why are you so upset?!!!!" he exclaimed. I nearly dropped to me knees and wept. I wanted to yell up to the heavens and plea for this all to be a dream! I wanted this all to be a dream.
My adrenaline put my right foot in front of my left, up our three flights of stairs and onto our couch.
"I love you sweetie..." he said from the other room.
"They say I'm not allowed to love you..." I responded.
I was waiting for my eyes to drain like a raging waterfall, but instead, they closed.
I awoke at 9AM. Garrett was nestled tightly beside me. Our unconscious selves held on through the night for dear life.
I pulled an arm away and grabbed my phone. Trump had 289 electoral votes and Hillary had just over 200. He was the president elect, and there was nothing I could do about it. I watched his victory speech, and it was fake, scripted, emotionless, slimy and scary. He was the president elect that he was supposed to be in that moment, and it was all a facade.
Garrett awoke, had been awake well past me and already knew the news. He had watched Trump's speech live at 3:15AM. Hillary was scheduled to concede at 10:30AM. I set alarms on my phone. I needed to hear from my hero Hillary. I needed to hear her preach.
Hillary has been pushed down all throughout her life, both personally and professionally, but she always gets back up. I have not figured out how exactly to do this yet. I have been down for quite some time now as I try to figure out my career in the big city. I feel rejected or discouraged at every turn. More recently, I haven't even looked for new turns to take! Hillary is someone I look up to, and I know she would've carried our country to a better place. She would've kept what worked and rearranged what didn't. She's smart, and experienced and strong. I trust her and I was and will forever be with her.
As Garrett and I looked into each other's eyes, through to a mirror image of our own wounded souls, I asked, "We'll be okay, right??" My wonderful man assured me, "Yes."
The world might've seemed to be against us in that moment, but we were with each other. We were committed to holding strong. In that moment, this outcome meant more than a disappointment to me and to us. It meant fighting for a right that we care about. Our right to marry has nothing to do with what a conservative STRAIGHT man thinks or has the power to do! With love and appreciation for each other in our hearts, Garrett and I made some of the most beautiful, passionate and connected love we had ever experienced together.
Garrett left for work around 11:30AM. Hillary still had not come on. By 12 o'clock, she emerged in black and purple. It felt like a funeral. She said everything that she was supposed to say but with conviction and heart. She connected with those of her voters who feel most left behind. I had still not cried from this incredible loss when it came time to listen to her speak. It was time.
Hillary hit me where I wasn't expecting it though. All morning, I was feeling so deeply for her. What a blow. She had been dreaming of this achievement for her entire career and this was her SECOND failed attempt. I kept remarking with disbelief, "Sweetie! This is such a horrible example to young people who have big dreams, who are told to go after what they want and that they'll get it! She's done just that and has been pulled down time and time again. I feel so horribly for her! She must be just so torn apart." I would go on and on. The emotions were heavyset.
Her tone changed from addressing her donors... "And to the young people... In particular... I hope you will hear this..." she paused. I welled. My hands jumped to my face as I began to grasp for air. "I've spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I've had successes and I've had setbacks. Sometimes many painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public and political careers. You will have successes and setbacks too. This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it." As I sobbed in our apartment alone, I felt hugged by Mrs. Clinton, I felt like she understood exactly where I was and I felt assured that I would indeed rise again.
Thank you Mrs. Clinton for your public service. Thank you for all of your love and dedication and for never giving up. Thank you for inspiring me to live my life to it's fullest. Thank you for giving me the gift of inspiration. Thank you a million more times over from the very deepest, darkest and most secret part of my delicate heart. I know I'm not alone when I say,
Mrs. Clinton, I love you.