On election night in 2016, I was alone, huddled in front of my laptop in the converted shipping container I had rented for a few nights in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and watching the results roll in. I don’t remember now what the polls and the pundits had been predicting in the preceding days, but what I can recall easily was the feeling of intense, looming disaster, a constant premonition of what was to come that I couldn’t even escape in my dreams, which had been filled for weeks with nightmares of a Trump victory.
That feeling, however, hadn’t motivated me to do much else but flee—a few months earlier, I had decided to embark on a cross-country road trip in the weeks before and after election day, visiting as many national parks and forests as I could before ending up in California, just in time for what would turn out to be a depressing family gathering for Thanksgiving. Before I arrived in Las Cruces, I had spent my days soaking in outdoor tubs and hiking with my dog, doing my very best to block out the ambient hum of the election. That would turn out to be both dumb as well as impossible—dumb because a better use of my time would have been to channel that anxiety into doorknocking and phone banking, and impossible because I was still in America, and it seemed no matter where I drove, I would pass far too many billboards screaming about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi or Hillary Clinton being a murderer, internet memes that had suddenly appeared in my IRL world.
On the eve of election day, full of panic, I had stopped by Hillary Clinton’s local office to help with get-out-the-vote efforts, much to the confusion of the white-haired volunteers who saw my New York state driver’s license. As I called voters, I thought to myself, why did I wait? It was too little, much too late.
Four years ago, election night ended with my crying over that laptop with a group of my friends, their faces on the screen in discrete boxes; they were also crying. We all had a sense of how bad the next four years could get; the reality has been worse than I think any of us imagined.
This year, I’ve been determined to not be a dumbass. I’ve been spending a few hours almost every weekend phone banking, talking to voters in battleground states and my home state of Texas. It’s helped keep my panic at bay, but this morning, I still woke up a ball of anxiety. My stomach feels like it wants to claw its way outside of my body, my chest hurts, and even the two gummies I popped last night didn’t help.
How are YOU feeling today? What have you been doing to not devolve into a mass of nerves? Tell us in the comments below, because we’re all fucking in this together, unfortunately!