Hearts for Love

On election night, I put Thea to bed before going to meet one of my best friends for dinner. All day, I’d been reading Pantsuit Nation posts on facebook and running into neighbors on their way to and from the polls. In the wide net of people in real life and social media who cross my path, I knew two who I thought would vote for Trump. We ran into my neighbor and her two daughters on their way home from voting. Her five year old asked me if I voted for the lady.  

When I let Thea pick out her pajamas last night, she picked “hahts [hearts] for love”.

By the time I came home from dinner, I felt sick. The results were starting to come in and not looking good. I curled up in bed with my phone (we don’t have cable), obsessively refreshing newsfeeds and hoping for good news from Michigan, Pennsylvania, and even Florida at first. (New Hampshire never even crossed my mind.)

Around midnight, just before the big chunk of usually-but-not-guaranteed blue states were called, Thea cried out in her sleep. We just switched her from a crib to a twin bed, so I went in to make sure she was safe. I fell asleep curled up on the end of her bed and slept fitfully all night. Each time I woke up, I though “Michigan and Wisconsin must have gone for Clinton.”

This morning, stunned, sick, sad, and feeling truly scared, we came downstairs. I had a chocolate sandwich for breakfast. Since I can’t drink or consume excessive coffee at 8 months pregnant, this seemed a reasonable indulgence.

I thought about what it means that a man who’s spoken about and openly treated women the way Trump has could be elected. I wondered if even Thea’s generation will ever really believe a woman can be President. I thought, as so many others have, that surely Trump will get himself impeached and we won’t even have him for four years. But then I thought about Mike Pence and conversion therapy and denial of evolution thought about the Supreme Court.

My first job out of college was for the Kerry Campaign in 2004. I worked in Ohio on election night and that was, obviously, a sad day. I fell asleep crying and fully dressed and woke up to relentless rain that only let up after I’d packed up my office and begun the drive from the Ohio River Valley back to my apartment in Chicago.

But, even then… I hesitate to admit this, but even then there was part of politics that felt a little like the World Series. A passion of allegiances and alliances as much as something that really, potently, mattered in the day-to-day sense. I didn’t like Bush, and I felt sad that the work I’d done to help elect Kerry was unsuccessful, but I didn’t fear for our country and I didn’t feel betrayed at the thought of Bush supporters in my midst.

This morning feels different. I can’t stop thinking: there are people celebrating this? Not just a few. A lot.

I know the thing to do is stay and fight. I’m not moving, or even joking about moving, to Canada. My family is here. This is my country. But where to start. Trump and the support he garnered feel so far away from my blue state and yet the threat that this administration poses feels so real. A real threat to the American Experiment, to women, to Muslims, to immigrants, to the freedom of the press, to our international position. To love.

As I’ve been trying to snatch a few minutes to write down these thoughts, Thea is playing with her bunnies, running up to me every few minutes with a request that I “kiss hop.” I see her holding her lamb and saying softly to herself “love Baaa so much.”

So what do we do? What do suburban blue state white women do? What does anyone do?

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