How it all shakes out

Flourish Vol. 42

Hello from this brave new world, post-2020 presidential election. I suppose we’re technically not done and dusted quite yet, what with Arizona and Georgia taking their sweet time (as they should!) and, you know, the sitting president still refusing to concede his loss. But the future, for the first time in such a long time, holds some degree of certainty. And it feels damn good.

The past four years have been some of the hardest, happiest, most consequential of my life, and so the parallels before us now are easy enough to draw, to hope to wrap this chapter up neatly, seal it up tightly and and shove it away forever in the furthest reaches of my mind.

Even after four years of weathering the president’s daily attacks on immigrants, women, people of color, scientists, world leaders, and the media, even though I could cover the cyclical absurdity of Donald Trump’s presidency in my sleep, the idea of 2016 repeating itself on this election night made me more hopeless than I could even express. And still, we prepared for every outcome.

We spent four days straight waiting for the results to trickle in, for a call to be made, my eyes blurring from cycling through tweets and maps and posts and polls for hours on end, stress eating and chugging caffeine and flinching ever so slightly at every push alert. And in the waiting, I felt a mix of emotions: tentative optimism, but also anger and disappointment that so many states were too close to call, that this election was even close at all. I thought I’d been prepared for the country’s reaction to four years of Trump’s presidency, but it seemed that like the last go around, I might’ve over-extended my benefit of the doubt to the rest of this society.

We braced ourselves for the possibility that this could drag on for a week. And then, on the fifth day, after my first restful night’s sleep since election day, the morning I was meant to leave for a getaway to recharge before potentially another election week, just like that it was over. A flurry of push alerts, and a new president-elect. My mind reeled for a minute, barely allowing me to accept this new reality. I texted my friends, shook my boyfriend awake, felt elation, an exhalation, exhaustion. I felt, for the first time in years, justified in my hope, though it had come to feel more like naivety, and had lately dimmed to barely more than a flicker.

I am susceptible to the suspicion that happiness is some sort of trap, and in the past four years that’s loomed more heavily than ever, so it was genuinely surreal to see people celebrating in the streets, honking horns and dancing on cars and giddily hosing each other with champagne. Between Trump and a never-ending pandemic that’s left us isolated from most of the things we love most, public joy had taken a hiatus in recent memory. So this weekend was the respite we needed; a meteor shower in a very dark night. I felt a slight pang of FOMO at not being in a city for this historic moment, or with my friends, to celebrate the end of something that had taken up a good part of our twenties, but group texts and Zooms and celebratory Instagram stories managed to fill some of that void. I felt my heart swell seeing people overwhelmed with such happiness, seeing goodness and justice and hopefulness win out, at least for now. Because god knows we all needed a win, the reassurance that there was something better to believe in, after all.

Much to my surprise, what’s been mostly a waking nightmare of a year has somehow managed to redeem itself slightly in the eleventh hour. I left a city where I was no longer happy and in doing so completely changed my financial future, finally had a life-changing surgery, and met someone so aligned with who I was searching for, it makes me believe in all that manifestation stuff (just a little.)

Of course, there’s still so much work to do, and this is only the beginning of the end of the last four years. Trump still has not conceded. We’ve just hit 10 million COVID cases in the US, and we’re heading into a very dark winter. But for the first time in so long, I’m feeling hopeful that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel after all.

Some things that have sustained me through the election cycle/Daylight Saving Time/never-ending quarantine:

Anyway, this is about as much energy as my brain can muster at the moment, so I’m going to end my free-writing on this surreal reality here, and hope you’re taking some time to take it all in, too.

Keep faith in the future ✨