Like most of us, I sat in front of my television on Tuesday night and then stayed there straight to Saturday, switching from channel to channel as the votes trickled in at a snail’s pace. Were we watching the end of democracy in slow motion? Or would Biden prevail and we’d all get to celebrate for the first time in four years?
On Tuesday night, after Trump had won both Florida and Ohio, I went to bed thinking Biden had lost. The election so often comes down to those two states. But on Wednesday morning, I woke up at about 5am and saw that things had started to shift. The red mirage everyone was talking about seemed to be a real thing and was starting to lift. No, it wasn’t the landslide many Democrats were hoping for, but it could still be a decisive victory. I let my kids know the hopeful, but in no way certain, news when they woke up.
By Wednesday evening, it seemed pretty clear that Biden was going to win, but like many of us still traumatized by the 2016 election, we were afraid to say it out loud. That night, my sister sent me a video of people marching outside her window. They were Biden supporters chanting “I believe that we will win!” It made me realize that there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who think that predicting the outcome they want will jinx it and those who think predicting the outcome they want will manifest it. I belong to the first group, but over the course of that Thursday (when the electoral count remained unchanged despite some very obvious blue trends), I tried my best to belong to the second group.
By Friday, I believed it. I let myself feel the win. I told friends that we had won. I posted the chanting video on Instagram and said publically that we had won. I was also taking my cues from the Biden Harris camp, who were adamant that the votes were continuing to go in their favor. I began to understand that by perpetuating doubt, we were doing exactly what Trump wanted us to do. Doubt left a window for him to call fraud and make that stance more meaningful. Declaring a Biden win, as indicated by the actual vote and everything we were seeing and hearing, gave Trump less opportunity. According to everything I was watching, including Fox News, there was no doubt who won the election. Just skittish observers who either didn’t like outcome or were afraid to jinx it.
On Saturday morning, I turned on Morning Joe on MSNBC. Mika and Joe seemed legitimately pissed that they had to come in on a Saturday in case the election was called, when the networks should have called it for Biden by now. That made me feel pretty good. And then, sooner than I expected actually, it happened. After five days of watching the news day in and day out, in every room in our apartment so we would not miss a moment, they called it.
Biden had won.
I called the kids in to see the news. We whooped and hollered in our living room and then we went out on our balcony to watch NYC find out the news as one big community. One by one, people came out on the rooftops to scream in victory with us. Then the cars started honking. And then people were banging pots and pans. We got out pots and pans too.
All day long, NYC exploded with relief and joy. From the rooftops to the streets. From the second the news broke through the night. I don’t think a description will do it justice, so I made a video of what the celebration looked like to us, as it progressed throughout the day.
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I love my city so much.
After celebrating in the streets, we went to a restaurant on the water to celebrate with friends and champagne.
Our group was our original quarantine bubble. The three families we have spent by far and away the most time with since March.
It also includes my friend Lucy, who has been like a security blanket for the past six months. We have been constantly texting each other with updates and checking to see if we are okay when bad news breaks. Whenever we have dinner at their place (which is often), we will often slip away after dinner to drink wine and watch the news upstairs. Lucy is from New Zealand and a part of me knew that if Biden lost, the United States might be losing Lucy and her family too.
It occurred to me, as we partied together on the streets of Manhattan on by far the happiest day since lockdown began in March, that between us, we have all daughters. They range from 7 to 16 years old.
It felt incredibly special to spend the day with a group of young girls, cheering and screaming on the streets of NYC, and then come home to watch the first female Vice President Elect take the stage to claim victory.
Kamala Harris, dressed all in white, said, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last—because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.” Our girls were watching and for sure, they are dreaming bigger and brighter today.
I would also like to point out that the slowness of the election results were an amazing teaching opportunity for our kids. Both Mazzy and Harlow know so much more about the electoral college, the maps, and the entire process of democracy than they would have understood if it was over in one night. And let’s be honest— I understand a lot more too! This election will shape how active and engaged our children are for the rest of their lives.
For most of the day, we avoided large crowds. Our bubble has been exceedingly cautious in avoiding spaces that seem ripe for COVID spread. But, after it got dark and our own celebration seemed to be winding down, we just wanted more. Lucy, Aura and I decided to go to Washington Square Park to really share in the revelry.
The park was packed, but most everyone was masked and outdoors. We tried to keep as much distance as possible, while still feeling a part of it. The joy was overwhelming and beautiful.
Not a ghost town, as Trump has called NYC in the past. Definitely not a ghost town.
My favorite moment was when we got to the arch. There’s a view straight up 5th Avenue to the Empire State Building. It was lit up in red, white and blue. In that moment, I realized the American flag was something I could embrace as my own again. I looked around the park and saw many people waving American flags high above them. Not Biden flags, or blue flags, or Pride flags or anything else. American flags. The flag that represents every single one of us.
I’m the daughter of a Jewish immigrant whose parents survived the Holocaust. My mom came here from Germany when she was four. The United States of America welcomed our family back then, when no one else would, and I feel like we are welcome once again.
A vote for Biden Harris wasn’t a vote against anyone. It was a vote for us all.