This day, which has turned into night, feels surreal. On this night in 2016, half a dozen of us were together, sinking slowly but inexorably into despair. That felt pretty surreal too, as have the intervening four years. This is the way I know how to be together with others at this time, and I appreciate your company.
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, Washington
1 PM. I’m in a state of some sort of suspended animation with a strong undercurrent of anxiety. So far today, I have cleaned two bathrooms (even the dusty shelves that I usually pretend aren’t there), swept the kitchen floor, washed the glass plate in the microwave, and cleaned the living room windows. I even climbed out onto the slanted roof, something I’ve always wanted to do but have never done before, so I could get the outsides. Despite its being a dark gray day, the difference is startling. Who knew they were so fogged with grime and whatever that coating is that windows get when left to their own devices.
2 PM. Every now and then, I make a foray out into the world via CNN or MSNBC, but I don’t stay long. My news feed will tell me if there’s anything I need to know before the polls start to close, which they will do first in Indiana and Kentucky, two states that are clearly not concerned about voters who aren’t able to get the day off from work. They close at 6 PM local time. After that, according to The New York Times, there will be a steady stream of poll closings, every hour and sometimes every 30 minutes. The last state to close will be Alaska, at 10 PM Pacific time, which makes it 9 PM local time. Apparently, Alaska has more regard for its voters than Indiana and Kentucky do.
Even though the number of hours between when my friend Rebecca, who lives in New York, and I, here in Seattle, talked this morning and the time of the first polls closing is the same, I said that beginning to get results (maybe) at 3 o’clock feels like I don’t have to wait as long as she does. This emotional logic made sense to both of us. On the other hand, neither of us is sure that we will be able to bring ourselves to watch, whatever the time.
3 PM. I should be working. Instead, I’m sifting through emails and visiting shopping sites. A friend got a new rain jacket at LL Bean, kid’s extra large. I drift over there for awhile but don’t stay too long. Maybe Old Navy has something I could really use (I know, I know, I’m not going anywhere except to the grocery store every two weeks) on super sale. A couple of weeks ago, one of those sales scored me a black cardigan for $12. It’s useful to have an extra layer for Zoom meetings. In between sifting and visiting, I sit and notice how tightly my teeth are locked together.
A little after 4 PM. I manage to pry myself off my chair and out the door for a walk. Sunset is less than 45 minutes away so I cut off a leg of my usual loop (to mix my metaphors). This doesn’t seem like a good evening to be out after dark by myself. While I walk, I listen to a English mystery published in 1934.
5 PM. A friend who lives by Green Lake tells me that the management of her building sent everyone an email letting them know that there is a march scheduled for this evening at the lake. They were adding extra security to the building and closing the office early. They strongly suggested that tenants might want to stay home tonight.
6 PM. It’s not that I haven’t taken peeks at the coverage, it’s just that I can’t put myself through all the ups and downs. The Washington Post has a Live Results page, which constantly refreshes. Not as nerve-wracking as listening to the rapid fire voices on television but bad enough. At the moment, Biden has 80 and Trump 51. Texas (Texas!) is leaning blue. Florida is leaning red.
6:15 PM. Texas is no longer leaning blue. Hopes of a blue landslide have evaporated.
7 PM. Texas, Florida and Georgia are all leaning red. North Carolina and Ohio are leaning blue. I think I’ll go watch the newest Masterpiece, aptly titled Roadkill. I haven’t given up, I just can’t stand to watch.