I timed dinner for the closing of the polls. I wanted to be talking with my kids around the table instead of looking at the New York Times Battleground States needles. We picked up Popeyes, a treat that confused and delighted my kids. Eating out on a weekday is unheard of in our house. The kids spend the meal engaged in that classic childhood dinnertime chatter that accompanies unexpected good fortune. My nine year old laughs, so I do too. I don’t know what she’s laughing about because my plan hasn’t worked. I brought my laptop to the table along with the biscuits and spicy fried chicken. It sits next to me and I’m watching the needles move. The kids stop talking, peek over my screen and ask me how it looks.
I don’t know how it looks.
When I started writing this, Donald Trump had an 82% chance of winning Florida. In between the first sentence and this sentence, there was a potty training emergency and a few drink refills. By the time I got back to my computer there was a 95% chance that he’d win. Other states are reporting now too. Once they’ve got more than 5% of the votes reported, a little needle appears next to each state. They tilt between red and blue. Those needles are just forecasting probability. And I should just stop looking at them. I should be here at this table right now.
It’s hard to be present in a moment when it’s inlaid in a reality you don’t comprehend. I haven’t understood the reality that holds my moments for four years. A reality where 46.1% of the country voted for a man who boasted about grabbing women by the pussy and was transparently racist on the campaign trail. Tonight feels like reality and I and the moments we make together could undergo a realignment. So I am watching those needles like a character in a Philip K Dick novel. If enough needles tip away from Trump, my table and the people around it shift back into a world I can understand. It’s a world still beset by structural racism, misogyny and poverty. No amount of blue is going to solve that tonight. But it’s a reality that is less actively destructive and less hellbent on being hellbent, more open to building hands and budding hearts.
The dishes have been cleared now. The kids have moved onto story time, my husband is reading in funny voices and they’re laughing again. I’m still here holding onto my table. Watching the needles, anxious for that first moment embedded in a new world.