The Election

By Caroline Donnola

Sitting outside

having brunch with a friend

on an oddly warm and sunny

November morning—

a major treat in Covid time—

we hear cheering and horns honking

and we know what this must mean—

Biden has won.

We walk the streets back to my car

and there is singing and dancing

and celebrating in this very liberal neighborhood.

And while I am relieved by the results

I don’t feel happy or celebratory.

Instead, I feel almost numb.

For me, this is not the beginning

of things getting better.

We’ve simply turned a new page

in a volatile chapter

of a flawed and outdated story.

Fifteen minutes later

I’m back in my neighborhood.

My district went for Trump—

an anomaly in New York City—

though it was a close call.

I drive around and around

and then walk the streets

to drink in the mood.

The almost-half who went for Biden

must be celebrating indoors.

I breathe a sigh of relief.

The others—who may be angry, upset, disappointed—

hide their response as well.

There are no public displays of emotion

in this neighborhood

that is more like Middle America

than like New York,

although the mixture of ethnicities

would make this place an anomaly

in Middle America.

Somehow I am most comfortable

in places that don’t quite fit.

I am neither fish nor fowl.

I’m an independent.

I can’t celebrate half the country

doing anything.

Perhaps I would feel better

if I could share that sense of victory.

But I can’t.

We independents

are going down a different road.

One that has to include,

if not everyone,

then at least the vast majority.

Yes, it’s a longshot.

Hell, we don’t even know where this road leads.

Who would travel such a road?

Those of us who simply cannot accept

this either-or, in-or-out, winner-loser

way of things.

Will there ever be a time

when the whole country

can celebrate together?

I would love to be part of that rejoicing—

to spill out into the streets,

to sing and dance

and relish our coming together

our American-ness.

I doubt I’ll live to see it,

but I’m still trekking down that road

and finding comfort

numbers and small—

who walk along this other path

with firm and steady steps

day by day.

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