What I learned about America on November 9th

what-i-learned-about-america-on-nov-9It’s November 9. Yesterday Trump won the election.

I had to see if the world looked different today, so the boys and I left the house before 7 with no real plan or place to go.

At the park, we ran into Olivia from music class, eating donuts on a bench with her nanny. “How are you?” the nanny asked me, eyebrow raised, in that faux casual tone I’d grow to recognize throughout the day. It was the way we identified each other, we fellow members of the tribe of disappointed voters. “Well…” I responded, the Minnesota-nice version of “terrified and depressed.” She nodded, understanding me completely.

The baristas at the coffee shop were playing a carefully curated mix of apocalyptic music when the kids and I stopped in for scones. REM’s “It’s The End of the World” came on as I ordered. As we waited for our food, I noticed that people around us were clustering together, shaking their heads, eyes anxious, voices tense. Any other day, there’d be a single-file line of strangers waiting silently for their lattes. Today, nobody wanted to be alone.

Later, Gus asked to go to the local craft store, where wooden cars and hand-knit dolls and fairy houses lined the shelves, and the woman working the counter wore a shirt that read Something Terrible Happens And People Wake Up. “We thought we should go somewhere beautiful today,” I said in greeting, symbolically waving a Me Too flag in her direction. We spent thirty minutes talking. “I turned on Hillary’s concession speech in the store,” she told me, “and everyone here was crying.”

When I woke up this morning, I needed to see if America looked different with Trump as the president-elect.

As it turned out, it did.

Not because anything changed overnight, but because now I can see the country for what it really is. And so can everyone else.

And that is changing us.

Today I saw strangers bucking social norms and making real emotional connections. In a way, it reminded me of how we reached out to one another as the news of the terrorist attacks unfolded on 9/11.

Today, I participated in deep conversations with people I had met only minutes before.

Today, I wasn’t distracted by the trivial or mundane. I didn’t have a single conversation with another adult about potty training or cleaning up my children’s toys. In a stay-at-home mom’s world, that’s almost unheard of.

The future of the country was at the front of everyone’s mind today, regardless of how they voted. People shared ideas on how to make real change, right now, and in the months and years to come. On my social media feed, friends from both sides were calling for unification, kindness, and respect.

I don’t know what will happen after January 20, 2017.

But I do know that today, in one little corner of one American city, I saw signs of democracy awakening.

We haven’t given up our voices just yet.

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