This past Sunday was the NYC marathon. Feeling a bit on edge because of the election, I took the kids to cheer on some runner friends with homemade signs, and to high five strangers. I knew the kids would love watching people of all shapes, sizes and colors running through our imperfect but diverse city. The music, the energy of the crowds, the volunteers and inspiring people blazing past. And they loved it, and it buoyed me and it made me hopeful, and gave me the feeling I crave, that one I’m addicted to living here – the one where I absorb the stories, the connections, the pathos and the beauty of so many backgrounds rubbing up against each other. Sunday was really a great day.
Monday, my ten year old and I went to the Hillary’s Brooklyn Field Office to make some calls. We had a script and we called Hillary supporters in Florida to encourage them to vote, ask them if they knew where to go. Zoe was a star, everyone looked over and smiled at her sweet voice and her determination. She was so proud of herself for volunteering and I felt righteous and right on and like a good mom. Monday was also a really great day.
Online, late Monday night, obsessing over the people of Pantsuit Nation, the secret Facebook group where people felt safe to discuss Hillary. The mostly women and men sharing and lifting each other up, telling their stories of overcoming adversity gave me a similar feeling to the marathon, and the fact that I was again seeking out that metaphor was not lost on me. Emotionally building up to a victory for Hillary after the cumulative horror of this terrible election season, trying not to let my doubt seep in. Like all of us, I was looking around to reinforce my own values.
Tuesday we went to vote at the community center in a housing project adjacent to our neighborhood. After the kids helped me fill out the ballot and scan it in, got their stickers and fist bumped the other Hillary supporters, they wanted to play in the complex’s playground, where we had never played before. They met a bunch of kids and played tag happily for a few hours while I posted pictures of us in our “I’m With Her” buttons and pantsuits. I spoke to a friendly mom named Nikki about her neighborhood school and ours. We talked about article that came out in The New York Times this year about school re-zoning in our neighboring, yet very different socio-economic communities and about her experiences living in the housing project. Her daughter’s name is Chloe, and my daughter’s name is Zoe.
I left the playground feeling pretty good. I’m not gonna say smug, because I don’t think I am, but I felt something along the lines of: We’re ok. I can reach outside of myself and talk to people who aren’t exactly like me. I have empathy and compassion and want to understand people, and my kids hopefully do too. I felt hopeful that Tuesday would be a really good day as well.
Obviously today we know that is not the case. Today, Wednesday, I feel sick and sad and numbed to the concept that Hillary lost last night, and that the majority of our country chose fear and hate over love and hope. I’m embarrassed that I live in such a bubble that I am so shocked today. Thinking back over the past few days, the cautious optimism I felt and the personalized self congratulation I allowed for helping to elect a woman, talking her up to my kids, “liking” and loving every inclusive and inspiring post I read on the Pantsuit Nation, thinking we were ok because my kids can play with other kids in a playgound. I feel so bad today, and so stupid and so angry, and so foolish. I’m just here, soaking in it.
I was mostly honest with the kids this morning. I told them that bad things happen. That we will be ok and they are safe. That we will need to fight for those more vulnerable than themselves. I will teach them to speak out, as I have, and to be a good person and a good New Yorker and a good American. I won’t tell them to be afraid, even though I am.
Today we grieve and tomorrow we figure out how to move forward.