Can I finally write about that night? Not sure. Here goes. Hillary Clinton. My heart beat. I voted for her every chance I got. Loved her passionately—the way I’ve heard folks talk about working for a candidate with their whole soul. I was so happy: she was winning. We were going to have a woman president.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Girls can’t be president, stupid! That’s never gonna happen.
No more. My wife and I wore our white pantsuits to the primaries. What a night! She won! The most exciting political event of my life –and that’s saying a lot for someone who first put her body down in front of a nuclear facility at fifteen. I know politics, And protests.
A woman president!
I had blue champagne ready. The Senate would go blue! We would have a woman president! Trump would disappear! He was a confirmed sexual abuser—what was he even doing on the political national stage?
We bought donuts and brought them to the campaign headquarters the night before the presidential election, and sandwiches and donuts to the poll workers the day of the election.
We showed up to our friend’s house for the viewing party in our white pantsuits, Hillary shirts, and carrying blue champagne.
It was going to be one of the best nights of my life.
Can I really write about this? It’s been five years.
We had celebratory food, which for our hosts was always Kentucky Fried Chicken. I opened a white wine and spilled a glass on my friend’s yard libating all those who had done the hard work: IT WAS HAPPENING. A WOMAN PRESIDENT!
It started off so magical—the board lighting up and then around nine p.m. Pacific Time, Ohio or Wisconsin went to Trump (eventually both). I was completely stunned- whaat? A half hour later– Pennsylvania. I was literally getting dizzy. Nauseous. What was happening? My eighty-five-year-old veteran political hard-ass dyke friend, teared up.
“Nope,” she said. “Not gonna happen.”
If she hadn’t started crying—maybe I could have toughed it out. But we called ourselves “asshole buddies,” and we toughed shit out. I looked at her. She looked at me and shook her head.
I said to my wife, “I gotta get out of here.”
We got home. We unpacked everything – the unopened blue champagne glittered in the moonlight. My wife said, “We should open this. We shouldn’t save it.” So, we did. I let the cork fly into the star-studded night. I drank a glass to Hillary. What nefarious things had happened to skew the election would be revealed later. I knew Hillary would have to write “that speech.”
But I could take no more media.
My wife is sober. We stared into the sky. I had a bottle of champagne and the night.
I said, “I gotta walk.”
I took our dog, and the bottle of champagne, and walked around and around our cul-de-sac, drunk dialing everyone I knew. Leaving a message for my young godson about how he had to stick it out, that gay men had died for his right to be here. “I was in ACTUP,” I said.
“Somehow, we would survive,” I said.
He went on to be a founding member of the first Women’s March, saving the message on his phone and playing it for me later.
I finally got a friend on the phone in Ohio, at two a.m. my time, five a.m. her time. We talked for two hours until she had to leave to get to school.
Later that day I entered my own classroom.
I looked at the students. Some teary. Sad. Most scared.
I said, “Close the door and circle up. I’m going to teach you how to get arrested.”
–Written on President’s Day 2/21/22
With thanks to the L.A. writing and performance group QueerWise QUEERWISE
BIO: Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University; and a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.