On November 8, 2016 I put on a Marc Jacobs pantsuit that I bought at a sample sale and a graphic tee shirt that said, “OFFLINE”. I walked a few blocks to the school near my apartment and waited in line to cast my vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Afterwards, I headed into my office in the city and tried to have as normal of a day as possible. The fact that the first woman president in the United States could be elected that evening hung in the air though.
I won’t lie – I wore that suit because for me it was not could be elected, it was would be. The minute she accepted the nomination at the Democratic National Convention to the sounds of glass shattering, I just knew it would happen.
The fact that her opponent was a racist, xenophobic, sexual predator, only added to my confidence. After the infamous Access Hollywood tapes, I swore he was done for. Once his victims started coming forward, I was wondering why he might not bow out gracefully.
After work, I headed to my hometown to watch the returns with my family. It was an historic night, so I wanted to be with them. We went out to dinner to avoid being glued to CNN all night. That’s when things started going downhill.
We were barely through our main course when Trump started winning Florida. By the time we got home, the electoral map had a major shift in Trump’s favor. My mom and I still get twitches when we hear CNN’s Wolf Blitzer ask John King, “What’s the path to victory?”
John King would zoom in on a small county and say if voters turn out here, that could get her to 270 electoral votes. At a certain point I wanted to reach through screen, shake him and tell him, “Stop trying to find a path to victory, it ain’t happenin’!”
I accidentally fell asleep and my family went to bed. When I woke up in the middle of the night, most media outlets had called it. Donald J. Trump was the projected winner of the 2016 election. I sobbed instantly. I had never in my life felt so let down or surprised.
On November 9, 2016, I woke up and did a “walk of shame” in the pantsuit I had been so excited to wear the day before. Back at my apartment, I went through the motions getting ready for work until my mother called.
She was in tears saying she could not believe it. This was the first election that she voted in as she had just became a citizen the year prior. My mother also wore a pantsuit on election day.
When I got to work, it was like we were all feeling the same thing. Everyone on the elevator was quiet and solemn. Some looking as though they were holding back tears.
The truth is, I had been holding back tears since my mother called me. I was so unbelievably heartbroken that I knew that I was hanging by thread. Then Clinton officially conceded.
Everyone in the office watched. Some watched together, but I knew I needed to do it alone. The tears came rolling down my cheek as soon as Hillary said, “I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it too, and so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort.”
It’s funny that I say in my headline that I never want to relive that day because honestly, after the concession speech the rest of the day is a blur.
This weekend with same enthusiasm yet a lot less confidence, I cast my vote for Joseph R. Biden. I walked out feeling hopeful, but significantly more grounded. I did my part and it is now out of my hands.
I don’t write this to rally the vote. The reality is you’ve probably already voted or plan to tomorrow, November 3. I write this to say let’s be cautiously optimistic. I am sure I am not the only one whom had a day like November 9, 2016.
It may go our way, it may not. If it doesn’t, all is not lost. I know it will feel like it is, but it isn’t. We keep fighting for a better country. We keep calling out injustice. We keep going. We look forward. As hard as it may be.