The weight

Luke Mehall - 11/10/2016

I could feel the weight of what was happening a hundred feet from the door of the Powerhouse, a sort of instinctual dread. The air was thick. He was winning, and his lead was growing. What many thought would never happen was happening: Donald Trump was becoming our next president.

I started the night off at a local pub, my head on a swivel as I turned from my phone to the TV, trying to make sense of what was happening. The tension was building. I’ve never considered myself a Democrat, more of an Independent, but I was rooting for Hillary Clinton to win. The state of our nation depended on it, I thought.

The night started with pleasantries and beers, but quickly turned. Nothing was making sense. I knew Hillary needed a certain amount of electoral votes, but I didn’t understand exactly what states she needed to win. I knew my roommate Micha would know, and she was with the Democrats at the Powerhouse.

I went there, and cutting through the air of anxiety and despair, I found her. We might lose was the gist of it. My heart sank. Was America really about to elect an openly racist, misogynistic liar to the presidency?

The night carried on. I was too nervous to drink another beer. I knew it wouldn’t help. I already had a splitting headache because I’d been in the desert for several days. The vibe got worse, and I went into writer mode. I knew this was a moment in history I’d re- member as long as I lived, and I wanted to crystalize it in my brain. I studied the expressions on people’s faces. Some cried, others were transfixed on their phones. My phone died, which was OK. I really had no use for it at that point anyway.

Eventually, I slumped out of there to grieve on my own. I rode my bike slowly home as I contemplated what had happened. I felt sadness, but for what? For whom?

If I am being truly honest, and as a journalist and poet that is my job, I was sad for myself. For the last eight years I’ve felt as though Barack Obama truly represented my interests and values. I was proud to have a black president full of integrity. I thought America was headed in the right direction. I feel like Hillary represented many of my values as well. Sure, I wasn’t as excited about her as Obama, but I knew she would be a continuation of his vision. So I was sad because who I wanted to win did not win.

There’s a deeper sinking feeling past that, and that hit home as I sat in front of the computer screen and constantly refreshed the New York Times website. The financial market was crashing. I understood the anxiety that women, people of color, Muslims and immigrants were feeling. But I did not feel it myself as much as they did. I realized I am the privileged, educated, middle class white man.

I fell asleep with my computer still on in my bed and found myself wide awake at five in the morning. Ridden with anxiety, I knew I couldn’t go back to sleep. I wondered if I would get out of bed all day. I checked the news sites. I cried a little.

I avoided checking Facebook. I knew there would be anger, and voicing anger on Facebook is kinda like shouting at the wind. I had my own anger mostly for the

white populous that voted for Trump. I felt pure hatred for a minute. Instead of sending away the immigrants and Muslims, why don’t we just send the miseducated angry white people away? I hear Mars is looking for residents.

Eventually after hours of depressing news, I found my way to Facebook. Of course there were angry posts. A lot of them. But, through the anger and hate, there were some voices of love and truth. Many expressed their desire to leave the country but then realized how much America needs people who can accept and love others regard- less of their skin color, religion or sexual orientation.

One voice rang out over all. It was from Andrea Stanley, a Native American woman whose perspective I have appreciated since meeting her this past summer. The post read, “Good Morning! It’s a good day to be Indigenous! Remember, this is nothing new when we think of what our ancestors endured for us to exist today. This country is founded on stolen land, genocide, colonization and slavery. I appreciate honesty in any form and now it’s proven to y’all who didn’t already believe that we live in a white supremacist country. We will continue to fight for mother earth and the sacred.”

More and more, I am reminded of the privilege that being white and male means in America. It looks like for the next four years, those of us who appreciate and honor diversity will be on the defense. No matter how much I fight though, I will still be white and male – the ideal skin color and gender for the world Trump hopes to create.

I finally found the courage to get out of bed to write. Then, I heard crying outside my bedroom. It was Micha. She was crying for all the energy she put into the election that now seemed like a waste. (Just yesterday after knocking on doors all day, she practically collapsed next to her bed saying, “why won’t people just vote?”) She cried for women. She was exhausted and frustrated. I just listened and realized I was not as sad as her, or many people, because his presidency will not affect me as it does them.

Like many, I have thought of leaving. I have friends in Mexico and Canada. I’m still contemplating it, but again, it is a privilege to be able to consider it. And again, I’m going to leave you with words from someone else, Durango writer Page Buono and her post this morning: “For hours now, roughly 12 of them, I’ve been plagued by the in- tense desire to leave, to find some other place to call a home, because certainly in the wake of last night’s results, this does not feel like my home. Where else can I land? A deep forest, a lonely canyon, another county? But I realize that the desire and genuine opportunity to leave is a product of my privilege. For so many, there is no other country, no other home. This is it. Our task now is to carve out our place in it and hold firm to the welcoming spaces we craft. There is nowhere else to go. We have to turn toward each other and keep fighting to make this a space we are proud to call our own.”

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