Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Roll Call

It happened this evening during roll call. Unexpected tears, rolling down my cheeks. I couldn't get my glasses off fast enough to wipe them up, so I knocked them half off my face, clumsily.

My daughter asked, "Mom, why are you crying?"

"I am forty-two years old, and I have never seen a woman nominated for president." I could barely choke it out, I had to stop halfway through my sentence. My husband leaned over from his spot next to me on the couch and put his hand on my leg. My daughter came and gave me a hug.

I wasn't a Hillary supporter in the primary. I knew she was bright and capable—I had been convinced of that since I saw her give a brilliant speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison law school while her husband was campaigning for his first term as president. I remember thinking, "He has the charisma, but she has the goods." No, it wasn't because I didn't think she could do the job that I voted for her opponent. Bernie Sanders spoke to my priorities, so I voted with him. 

I was also worried. Having lived in DC during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, and having worked at the Watergate (where she lived, and where the press corps was out in full force to catch a photo of her every second), I also worried that Hillary would just invite hatred from the right. The contempt for the Clintons during that time astounded me. Even though she stood by her husband, and even though HE was the center of the scandal, Hillary, in particular, could not seem to catch a break from the GOP. Nothing has really changed on that front. Conservatives seem to disdain her with foment, personally and politically. On all fronts, both due to my convictions and my concerns, I felt Bernie was the better choice for 2016.

So it took me utterly, completely, and delightfully by surprise when I broke into sobs tonight as history was made. My friend, Kate, called it: something amazing was happening with our generation of women in that moment, watching this ceiling shatter, and our social media feeds were the proof.

Generation X, born singing all the promises of Free to Be, You and Me, believing them all to be a given truth in our formative years—Generation X women grew up and realized those "truths" were aspirations still growing into being. We always knew that women and men were equal, we hadn't been overtly taught that there was any job or role we couldn't fill. And yet...and yet...here we are, in our forties, fully cognizant of the actual inequalities—subtle and societal—that still face us every day. It's hard to process that disconnect. It's hard to know how to fix it, frankly. How do you reconcile the liberation you were taught as a child with the reality you experience as an adult? 

We needed this moment more than we even realized, as Kate pointed out in our conversation.  We needed to SEE THIS HAPPEN. A woman can become president THIS ELECTION. This history that is unfolding is REAL and it is NOW.

It is worthy of happy, joyful, reverent tears.