On the morning of November 8, 2016, I woke up with a sore throat and a fever. My husband had decided long before to take the day off to help look after our two littlest ones since their kita (German daycare) was closed. It was just a bonus that it turned out I truly needed him. It had started to snow, a rarity these days even in Hamburg (thanks, climate change), and as we all walked to the doctor that morning to get me some drugs the excitement in the air was one part snow and three parts the idea of our first woman president in the United States.
I snapped this picture to remember the moment.
I spent the rest of the day dying in bed, too out of it with fever and to do much of anything else but around 4 am I was suddenly wide awake. “I’ll just check how Hillary is doing and then I’ll go back to sleep,” I thought as I reached for my phone with both excitement and nervousness. It was moments before she lost Florida. I realized with horror that I was jolted awake by a sudden disturbance in The Force.
“She just lost Florida,” I frantically typed to a friend who was monitoring the situation in DC. “Talk me down.”
His advice: Calm down. There were still many states to go and after all, there was still Michigan.
I did not calm down. I didn’t go back to sleep either. I stayed up for the rest of the night, watching with a rising sense of horror and dread. When she lost Michigan and the electoral college, my friend, who had kept a clear and optimistic head and spent the entire evening trying to quell the panic of so many, finally wrote “I have miss Yoda’ed you and I am sorry. Panic.”
I got an instant migraine. I became nauseous. I was too in shock to cry at that moment. That would come later. How could so many of my fellow Americans vote for someone like this? A racist, a sexist, an admitted serial sexual assaulter, a draft dodger and tax dodger and con man and liar and…and…and… I just couldn’t understand. But I wanted to. I’m trying to.
A lot changed that night. I changed that night.
I’ve spent the past year doing trying to do my part to stave off the real damage and danger I see to my fellow Americans. I’ve organized and participated in marches with Democrats Abroad Hamburg. I’ve written postcards and faxes (thank you, Resistbot!) and called my elected officials. I met Martin O’Malley, Robbie Mook, and Pete Buttigieg. I returned to the stage to process my own feelings about this election and the man who now sits in the White House. I’ve gently reached out to and had difficult conversations with Republican acquaintances and even more Progressive than I am friends to find ways to build bridges. I’ve participated in Q&A’s and panel discussions. I’ve spoken at vigils and marches. I started a book club that currently focuses on rural America because I want desperately to understand this part of my country.
And finally this: This week I begin my studies in Political Science and International Relations with the London School of Economics.
At The March for Democracy, a Women’s March sister march in January
At The Science March in April and at a vigil for Charlottesville in August
Telling Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook that Clinton won my county in Mississippi #proud
and with Governor O’Malley in March
Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana at the Democrats Abroad Germany AGM in April
from our play Neuland/Uncharted Territory in June
We’re performing again tomorrow night/tonight in Lüneberg if you’re in the area!