I am carrying a baby due to be born on January 20, 2017.
In the future, when my kids ask me what I did in the months and weeks and days leading up to the election on November 8, I will tell them.
I’ll tell them how I lay awake most nights blinking at the ceiling. How I made phone calls to undecided voters and that I mostly listened to voicemail messages of people with Pennsylvania accents telling me that they weren’t available right now. I’ll tell them that I voiced my unwavering support for a presidential candidate worthy of the title. I’ll explain why I deleted emails and direct messages sent to my inboxes filled with hate and vitriol and aggression and why I saved many more of them filled with goodwill and support and compassion. I’ll tell them how I took my two-year-old into the woods to hunt acorns and asters. That I made pots of black beans and stored them in the freezer so there’d be something nutritious to eat when time and energy were otherwise zapped. I’ll tell them that in the fall of this election, I burned dinner, four times, but that their papa perfected a sourdough pizza recipe and that we ate it every Sunday night.
On the day of the election, their papa’s birthday, I’ll tell them how together we took our kid to Central Park. How we gathered fall leaves and found tiny burbling waterfalls. I’ll tell them that we voted. That we passed our two-year-old between us as we filled in our ballots at Brooklyn Borough Hall. I’ll tell them that we cast our votes for the only sane choice; that we were so very hopeful. I’ll tell them how I carried my daughter on my shoulders on our walk back home and listened to her chant: Hill-ary. Hill-ary. Hill-ary.
I’ll tell them that I tried to answer emails and draft essays that day but that I couldn’t focus on the tasks at hand. I’ll explain that I stopped trying to work so that I could make more phone calls. I’ll let them know that I listened to more answering machines and phone clicks and exasperated would-be voters and then that I switched tactics and tried calming my nerves by ironing tiny onesies I’d dyed dusty pink with avocado pits and skins. I’ll tell them that I drank four cups of lemon balm tea to calm my nerves. I’ll explain that some nerves can’t be calmed but that we lit candles on their papa’s birthday cake and blew them out anyway.
I’ll tell them that on the night of November 8, my pregnant belly seized into one long Braxton Hicks contraction that lasted for hours; that I finally turned off the light and quieted my phone and tried to get myself to breathe. I’ll explain that I woke up at three in the morning and that my sobs woke their papa; that I couldn’t speak to tell him what I was reading. I’ll explain that when I woke again at 6:30, my chest was still clamped shut. I’ll tell them that from her perch in her bed, our daughter called out to us, full of joy and boundless energy:
I’ll explain how my chest ripped open.
And then I will tell them that I fought. That I refused to let racism and sexism and xenophobia rule the day. That I would not be fooled into complacency. I’ll tell them that I knew we had incredible work to do and that it would require unprecedented bravery. I’ll tell them of my renewed resolve to raise thoughtful, compassionate, big-hearted children. I’ll tell them of my commitment to being an ally to people far more marginalized than I am.
I’ll tell them that in a moment when my very work was to share my opinions with readers, that I could not think of a single good reason to hide these ones.
I’ll tell them that on January 20, 2017, I refused to be afraid and that I refused to be silent.