it’s 1:06 in the morning on january 20th, 2016. i’ve spent the past three hours trying to write about how i feel right now. i just read over what i wrote and i think it’s okay. i think it’s a little pretentious. it’s not as transparent as i would like. it’s hard to follow, even for me, and i wrote it. i definitely didn’t cover a portion of what i’m thinking and feeling. but this stuff, this politics stuff, it’s hard to write about. how do i put into words all the crap that’s going on in my head and also in the real actual world? i don’t know if i can. but i’m tired and i tried. because for me, i have three coping mechanisms when angry/anxious/sad/mostly sad; writing or crying or eating. i’ve already cried four times today and spring break is in a month so i’m on a ‘diet.’ writing’s my only other option so here’s what i’ve got.
politics has been the chosen topic of conversation in my family, my entire life. before sports, before broadway, before “what did you do at work today?” dinner, christmas, on the drive to school, waiting in line at disney world; i have been talking about – or hearing about, oftentimes against my own will – politics, forever. for me, it’s always been normal. what do you mean you didn’t spend your saturdays walking around neighborhoods, campaigning for obama, having the door slammed in your face by white men who only wanted a white president, at age 14? what do your mean your family doesn’t listen to sean hannity on long car rides, yelling at the inanimate radio, willingly filling themselves with rage, in an effort to stay awake?
i now realize, as i’ve been out of the house for a few years, that having a variety of 2008 inauguration memorabilia – pins&bags&shirts&posters- is not a very normal decor choice. most people don’t have a mom who calls you in sick to school so that you can watch the 2008 inauguration – and not because you ask her to, but because she is making you. it’s a little unusual that i spent multiple days of eighth grade wearing a terribly designed “obama wins indiana; we did it!” t-shirt. and proudly, i might add.
i was raised in a liberal disney world. i knew what my family believed in before i knew that a lot of people believed in different things. it took me a long time – and i’m still not really there – to recognize that many people, millions of people, think that everything i stand for, that an utterly inherent part of my mind & soul, is wrong. recognizing that what to me is so obvious and true, is delusional to others, that was really hard for me. before i left for college, i’d never been told i was wrong; i’d never been silenced.
when i got to butler, i entered the gates eager and excited to find other people to talk about this stuff – politics, the wellbeing of our nation – with, and i came up short. when i started talking, people either didn’t care to talk about politics or they didn’t care to talk about my politics. and to be frank, i love being right and i think that i am mostly always right, so i wasn’t willing to talk about their politics either. i so badly wanted to be back in my bubble of agreement and solidarity. suddenly & abruptly, i was surrounded by people who weren’t raised with my same beliefs. so i stopped talking; i was silenced, not because of any one person, but because of my own invited yet unexpected insecurity.
not until this year, my senior year, did i really start talking about my beliefs totally transparently and totally openly to people i didn’t know all that well, to my best friends, to the twitter-sphere. i did it because there was a candidate i despised with my entire soul, a candidate i hated and distrusted and truly believed would be detrimental to all of the progress we’ve made. i also did it because there was a candidate i loved eternally, a woman who i admired not just because of her gender but because of her ambition and bravery and relentlessness and inclusivity and intelligence and beauty. i started talking about politics with the spirit and passion i was raised to embody because, to be honest, i just had to stop caring what all these white upper-class hoosiers thought about me. so i slapped that ‘i’m with her’ sticker on my laptop and i raised my voice.
and you know what happens when you talk to people who don’t agree with you? you learn new shit! and you know what happens when you ask people if they want to hear what you think about obama or liz warren or trump in an as-quiet-as-someone-with-zero-volume-control-can-speak, semi-polite way? they listen! and maybe learn a little, too! the beauty of conversation and bipartisanship.
these conversations, these thoughts, these frustrations, they were all mine. i was in charge of what i read about, what i consumed, what i believed. it was interesting and albeit, a little terrifying, to not be safe under the umbrella of my parents. no one was helping me believe, it was all up to me. and you know what i learned about myself and about my country? i really love myself, i love that i’m passionate and i love that i am intentional in my opinions. i love that i was raised during a time like this, with this president, with this administration, with this progress. i don’t know if i would be so persistent in my knowledge had i been born without mr. obama as my commander-in-chief. without hillary clinton as my first vote.
and now that i feel all confident and cool, it’s changing, and it’s way weird.
today is january 19, 2016. barack obama is my president. joe biden is my vice president. michelle obama is my first lady.
tomorrow is january 20, 2016. barack obama will no longer be my president. joe biden will no longer be my vice president. michelle obama will no longer be my first lady.
as this day has loomed closer and closer, i’ve grown more fearful, more anxious, more heartbroken. i just feel really sad, like pit in the stomach, can’t think of anything else, nothing can distract you from it, sad.
the feeling mirrors how i feel about graduation, oddly enough. something that, for a long while, was far away. something that you think about for a second, in the car, in the shower, tipsy at dinner with friends. but it’s not here yet, so let’s go back to talking about ‘la la land’ okay?
i really thought today was going to be a celebration, a party for the ages. champagne would be popped, ‘freedom’ would be blasted, happy tears would be shed. all of this was a dream, a far off thought, like graduation, like the tony awards [june 11 on CBS], like the day when i finally start drinking water, like, consistently. i thought about the inauguration for so long, anticipating it with glee, preparing my heart&mind&soul to experience it for real, in real life, in real time – not just in my head.
and then the election happened.
from november 8 until today, i’ve still thought about the inauguration just as much as i did before. with just as much interest as i carried with me throughout this year. but with this new wave of reality comes anxiousness and an overwhelming need to wish away the future and sit happily in the past.
and as much as i’d love to stay in the past, with ellen and michelle dancing on my screen, with obama lifting a baby to the sky in the oval office, with biden wearing aviators and looking all sauve; that’s not our reality anymore. it’s all a beautiful and magical memory.
so what do we do now? i don’t know. right now i’m very sad. sad for what was, sad for what could’ve been, sad for what is. i’m going to the women’s march this weekend in d.c. because i’m craving community in this climate. i know the march won’t fix everything, i know writing about it isn’t the solution, but i do know that both of those things are better than sitting by and doing nothing. this is going to be really hard but we can’t turn our anger and sadness into stagnation. we’ve got to be proactive. we’ve got to get to work.
today is january 20, 2016. barack obama is my hero, joe biden is my surrogate uncle, michelle obama is my inspiration and hillary clinton is my everything else.