What Will I Tell My Grandchildren?

What will I tell my grandchildren?

When they come to interview me for their middle school history projects, the way kids do, and they ask me about this time in our country’s past they can’t believe I lived through, will I mention the tears?

Will I tell them I was throwing a party that night, champagne bottles filling the bottom shelf of my fridge, poised for popping, and when I realized what was going to happen I hid in the bathroom to hyperventilate, trying to figure out a polite way to tell everyone to get out of my apartment because I couldn’t handle it?

Will I tell them about the morning after, when I woke up to realize it was real and felt my chest cave inward, my muscles deflate, my skin melt to my bed sheets?

Will I tell them about the concession speech that tried to give us hope but didn’t really know how?

Will I tell them how I turned to my girlfriend, voice trembling, and asked her in earnest if we’d ever feel joy again?

Will I tell them how the two of us contemplated getting married even though we weren’t ready, before we wouldn’t be allowed to anymore, and how I figured that even if the marriage was dissolved someday, that at least I’d get to know what it felt like for a little while?

Will I tell them about the empty look in my president’s eyes as he tried to make us feel better, the first time I’ve ever seen him truly hopeless?

Will I tell them how silly it felt to go on with my Wednesday as if my homework really mattered anymore?

Will I tell them the shock I experienced when I brought myself to go outside, expecting life to have frozen, and saw kids playing in the sand and people eating at restaurants and a woman gossiping on her cell phone?

Will I tell them about the little boy who stood up at an adult-filled community meeting and said he didn’t think we should let this man kick anyone out of “our beautiful country”?

Will I tell them about the protests and the meetings and the posts in Pantsuit Nation that reminded me everyday how many people out there voted for an America I recognize?

Will I tell them about the swastikas?

Will I tell them how people called us whiners and sore losers, as if this were really about political disagreements, but how I refused to let them minimize what they’d done?

Will I tell them how I couldn’t stop myself from holding on to hope that the electors would protect us, but how I couldn’t cry when I found out they didn’t because I had already begun to numb?

Will I have to tell them that November 8th, 2016 was the reason our world looks however it does at that future moment, that the election they can’t believe I lived through was the beginning of a new world order that persisted, or will I get to tell them it was merely a blip, a rebellious tantrum thrown by an angsty teenage America who grew up and pulled itself together?

Will I widen my eyes and tell them we were all wrong, that in the end the disasters we anticipated never came to pass?

Or will I choke back tears while I tell them this was partly my fault, that I sat back and let this happen because I was naïve?

Will I tell them I tried to stop it?

Will I tell them I spent the next four years doing everything I could to fix it?

Will I tell them I worked as hard as I knew how to ensure their future America was a safe place to grow up?

Or will I tell them I did nothing, that I decided I was powerless and that again and again, I stood back and watched the world unravel?

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