I was making toast with poached eggs on Saturday morning, plotting the solo hike I was planning on taking to get away from screens and all humanity, my nerves shot with the endless waiting, when CNN called it. I frantically texted the phone bank captains What’s App group, my family group, my Coven, anyone I could think of. And then I burst into tears, as I hadn’t let myself really truly ugly cry in a long time, just as the honking and cheering began outside my apartment.
One of the hardest parts of 2016 was the dread that followed the hope. We’d all been so excited to make history, to defeat the scary buffoon, to finally have a woman in the White House, that when it didn’t go our way, fear filled the space in which we’d allowed ourselves to dream. I hadn’t allowed myself the space this time around, and had always assumed it wouldn’t go our way, that once again I’d be grappling with an underlying terror and sadness. I prepared myself for the worst, because I wasn’t prepared to be that let down again.
Fast forward four years, and… we did it. Despite the tears, I looked around my little apartment and decided I needed to be out, around people, around anyone, as much as I could safely do while safely socially distanced, so I grabbed the day pack I’d already filled with sunscreen, snacks, a picnic blanket and a camelbak of water (always be prepared!) and headed to Dolores Park in the Mission District. I wore my Biden/Harris mask, and was stopped along my walk by people in Biden/Harris shirts, carrying Biden/Harris signs. Strangers said hi and smiled over their masks and pumped fists and screamed with glee. The socially-distanced line outside of Tartine Bakery cheered every time a honking car with a Biden/Harris flag drove by. I got to the park, and a DJ had already set up, blasting “Party in the USA”, “We Are The Champions”, and “F^ck Donald Trump.” I set up my blanket in the flats, specifically choosing a heart-shaped social distance circle, and saw a group of friends greet each other, all cheering while wearing different t-shirts from their preferred primary candidate. A small and chubby herding dog kept bringing me a ball to throw for them, and I chatted with the dog’s elderly owner about how nice it was to get to breathe again. Spontaneous cheers came up every few minutes; I lay down and looked up at the blue sky, and started crying again, feeling the foreign joy that was taken from us last time.
The rest of the day was wandering and taking pictures, finally getting to meet a few of my fellow phone bank captains whom I’d only seen via tiny Zoom box previously, napping, and picking up an obscene amount of sushi and Salt and Straw Ice Cream and once again going to bed early.
But one moment stood out to me. After pulling myself together, I went to the Castro Philz to get a coffee, and as I rounded the corner onto Castro street, I saw the assembling crowd lining the streets with flags and horns and bubbles and signs and streamers. As someone who’s diligently quarantined and stayed away from other humans for nearly all of the past eight months, it was such a foreign feeling to experience, a collective joy and relief amongst strangers, to see so many people out in the streets celebrating. It was such a 2020 sight, like Pride in the age of pandemics: whereas in previous years there would have been endless embraces with strangers, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE, it was amazing) was masked and giving each other space, while still celebrating as a community. That sight and feeling got me in the feels again—yea, there were sooooooo many sobs this weekend—and as I started walking back towards Dolores with tears streaming down my mask, I encountered another solo woman crying. We stood ten feet apart from each other, commiserating and comforting and celebrating together, apart.
There is so much work to be done. Because I sure hope we don’t treat this like 2008, with all of us assuming everything across the country is fine and dandy because we won one contest while the GOP captures immense power at the local and state levels, and we’re twiddling our thumbs waiting for top-down salvation from a federal party that can’t. And this was nowhere near a total success: we didn’t see the wave we wanted, and we didn’t get the absolute repudiation of hate and authoritarian tendencies many of us wanted. And we know that Trump and his cronies will fight tooth and nail and never give us the concession we crave, after all, that’s what narcissists do when they lose.
The next few months are going to be very, very hard.
But we’re one step back from the brink, and that merited a day of joy. For a moment in San Francisco and around the world, the sun shone, the dancing commenced, and we were able to take a breath, together, one we’ve waited for years to be able to take in.
Be kind to each other, my darlings.