I Don't Know
I came into Tuesday, November 8, 2016, slightly more optimistic than I have been in recent memory. For no reason at all, other than being overcome with happiness that this election would soon be over. I started my coffee, took a shower, and threw on the day’s outfit. The same way any other day begins. A few hours later, I walked to my nearby voting booth, voted for my candidate, took the obligatory picture of my ‘I Voted!’ sticker to remind my friends to do the same, then I walked back home. A few hours later, the results came in. A few more hours later, I felt a way that I have never, in my entire life, felt before.
I stopped looking at the time hours before, but I believe around it was around the three o’clock hour when the election was called and the realization of Donald Trump as president was no longer a distant possibility, but a soon arriving reality. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, but I wasn’t hungry. I had a few drinks as I watched the results and if it was any other night I probably would have been considered by my friends to drunk, but I felt nothing. I, literally, felt nothing. If a doctor were to tell me that feeling is what shock feels like, I would believe them. Shock is exactly what I felt. Shock is what I still feel, nearly 36 hours later.
I stared at the screen in an existential daze, having a complete, “Holy shit, this actually happened,” moment, almost perplexed at what I was looking at. ‘President Elect, Donald Trump’ in big, bold, white letters, centered at the bottom of the screen with an American flag graphic floating in the background as the screen zoomed to him standing at the podium, preparing himself to speak to the audience. So, I listened. I listened as he spoke words of “unity” and “repairing the divisiveness in the country,” the very same divisiveness that he helped create. “This can’t be real,” I thought. Then, I knelt down in front of my bed and prayed as hard as I’ve ever prayed before. I wasn’t praying to God, per se, I was praying to anyone, and anything, that could hear me.
Then, I cried.
I cried myself to sleep, apparently, because I woke up an hour later to the newspaper delivery as the car’s brakes came to a screeching halt outside my window. I looked around my room, confused as to why the lights were still on, but I was too tired to care and flipped the hood of my sweatshirt over my head and let out a deep breath as I rolled in the opposite direction of the lamp that’s next to my bed.
I woke up a few hours later to the sun illuminating my already lit room, bursting through the shades that cover my window, almost like it was scoffing at the idea of me getting any more than a few hours of sleep. I reached over to the side of my bed as I patted around for my phone hidden beneath tangled headphone cords and a magazine I was intermittingly reading the night before. I normally don’t look at my phone for the first hour or so after I wake up, but I could hear the notifications in my sleep and I was growing annoyed of the idea at whoever was trying to get ahold of me.
Before I could read the first notification, I remembered what I was hoping was a dream, or, at the very least, hoping I could forget. My stomach dropped. It was the same feeling you get in your stomach when someone breaks up with you and you realize nothing will ever be the same between the two of you. Yeah, that feeling. The same feeling you get when you were a kid and your mother would yell at you then tells you to go to your room and now it’s the morning after and you have to go face her for the first time. My stomach was also telling me that it’s been 24 hours since I ate and it’s probably time to feed myself but I still wasn’t hungry. I found a banana I bought a couple days before and decided to eat that. “Better than nothing,” I whispered to myself as I shrugged and began to peel off the sides. I had nearly a couple of bites before I caught myself staring out the window. The only problem being, there’s nothing to stare at when you look out the window I was looking out of. My brain was stuck; trying to understand and process what had happened just a few hours prior.
I wasn’t in the mood for social media, nor was I in the mood to speak with anybody, so I turned my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and began to scroll through news articles that were being published. After reading three, four, five, six articles, I realized I was still standing in my kitchen, holding onto an empty banana peel. I took a deep breath, threw away the banana peel, and laid on the floor of my living room. My phone vibrated a few times while I stared at my ceiling and followed the paint brush strokes as they guided me to the other side of the room. I noticed that whoever painted the ceiling took three breaks, I’m assuming from neck pain, because the paint changed consistency as the painter made their way back in the direction of the kitchen.
Still not in the mood to reply to any text messages, I decided to leave my phone behind and go for a run; despite not having any physical, or mental, energy. I caught my stride after a few blocks and things were starting to feel normal again. I pushed myself a few extra blocks, then a few more, before ending in a dead sprint and coming to a halt, my arms flailing as I came to a stop and resting, bent over with my hands on my knees. I looked up to an empty street, a corridor of houses in middle of construction, then made my way to the unfinished porch of one of the houses and sat down. Then, I cried some more.
I thought about my friends, I thought about my family, I thought about people that I’ve loved. I thought about who I wanted to blame and I thought about how the world we currently find ourselves living in today is much different than the one we were living in last week. Mostly, though, I thought about who I was going to be moving forward. The answer, though, is frightening; because I don’t know the answer.
I don’t know what this means for the next four years of our lives. I don’t know what this means for the rest of our lives. I don’t even know what this means for tomorrow. That uncertainty frightens me more than anything I’ve ever encountered in life. To some, it means nothing; to the others, it means everything. I am drinking a very large glass of humility at the moment, because I don’t know what this means for me. I am, however, going to spend a lot of time figuring that part out. I need to allow myself to get very, very quiet so that I can understand what my mind is telling me.
What I can say, though, is this:
This is a time that us like-minded people ALL need to stick together and not be discouraged by this moment. Allow yourself time to go through your grieving process because, trust me, I am in a lot of pain, too. But, when you are ready to get back to work and when you are ready to go face-to-face with the task in front of us; I will also be ready. Our moment is ahead of us.