There I was. My night started with exciting energy because this nasty election season chock-full of racist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women rhetoric and political platforms would be coming to a close. I took it as a guaranteed outcome that Trump was finally going to be done and gone, save for a new TV network in his name.
I rushed from work to meet my boyfriend Nick and a couple of our close friends at the Westin Hotel towers in Downtown Seattle just after 6:00 p.m. (which was already after 9:00 p.m. on the East Coast). That’s where the Washington State Democrats were having their watch party. We were looking forward to watching the election returns with friends and some of the state’s highest-ranking Democrat leaders.
It didn’t take long for the air of excitement to combust into something much darker. By the time I went to the bar to wait in line for a second beer, I saw two people crying as they watched a graphic of the U.S. map on MSNBC. Officials had called a couple swing states for Trump including Florida and North Carolina. I turned to one of the women nearby, a stranger, whose eyes were bloodshot as tears streamed down her face. I asked, “Is this really happening?”
Inside the main ballroom, the large-screen monitors showing live TV coverage of the election returns had been shut off. Now, a state Democratic leader was at the podium starting to talk in phrases that made my stomach churn. And there were still polls open in some time zones.
As one politician boasted to the crowded ballroom something like, “We will continue to fight for marginalized communities no matter the outcome tonight”, I turned to Nick and told him we had to get out of this place and to a TV to hear every development because this was scary now. I felt like throwing up. I started to vomit some of my emotions on Facebook:
We ended up following our friend Alex to his house and spent the next couple hours in his living room. I paced the floor and went into some state of shock as it became clear Trump was going to take this. Nick and I were home in our own apartment by the time Clinton was conceding around 11:00 p.m. Pacific time. My emotional roller coaster continued to play out on Facebook:
And, we didn’t sleep. At all. Nick and I stood up from bed and laid back down in fits, tossing and turning, checking Facebook and news sites every few minutes.
It felt as if we’d just learned someone had died. There was shock which was closely tied to the feeling of guilt of not having done enough to stop this from happening. There was the feeling I’d sat too comfortably in my white privilege these past few months.
Overnight, we were entering into a new reality, one where I quickly understood I was going to be much more awake.