In about twelve hours, I’m boarding a plane headed to my first Inauguration. My plan, twenty years ago, was to write the speech for the first woman President. Specifically, Hillary Clinton. Yes, twenty years ago I imagined a White House welcoming our first female president, a glass ceiling shattered by justice and intelligence and equality. And my words echoing truth upon the mall, into the living rooms and classrooms and lives of those witnessing history.
I woke up at 2 AM, in time to see and hear the stunned CNN anchors making a call against what felt like history and justice and human decency. And I cried. Like many of my friends, I Googled how do I explain the election to my children? in hopes that someone smarter than me would’ve had something poignant and purposeful to offer. My search yielded no result adequate for the the tear-choked words “Hillary didn’t win” I mumbled as my seven-year-old came downstairs for breakfast. I can still feel her little hand reaching out and squeezing mine tight that morning on the way to school as we prayed, urgently, for God to show His presence in this moment that seemed so stilted and stifling and surreal.
I sometimes still have to repeat that prayer.
A few days after the election, I went into the room of the girl that teaches next door. We’ve been a team for three years. A close team. A strong team. Very much a left and right. Our differences have always balanced our planning and teaching. Our ability to respect each other while disagreeing has always been a source of pride for each of us. The day directly following the election, I couldn’t even look at her. But this day, I went to her and closed the door. I didn’t say anything but as our eyes met, we both started to cry.
Because who we voted for didn’t negate our humanity.
Because who we voted for didn’t change our friendship.
The irony that I am going to the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump after the contentious election between he and Hillary Clinton is not lost on me. A lifelong Democrat, I very much thought upon sign up that I would be witnessing a history I had dreamed about (sans the speech writer gig) two decades ago. But the election didn’t go my way. And while I have accepted the results and I continue to read and question and debate and think and try to understand the legacy that is being built I can not in good conscience ditch my plans because I didn’t get my way. I have to think about who is watching me. Students. Peers. Family. My daughters.
History will be made Friday. But will it, really, be for Party Politics? The peaceful transfer of power is something to be celebrated - and I get to see it, firsthand, in the most remarkable of circumstances. It would’ve been easy to stay home and watch from the sidelines. To cut my losses. And I’ve dodge many snarky comments or remarks - and I even had an assumption that I was going to protest made - because I chose to go. I chose to put my pride aside and shift my paradigm. I chose to lead.
I don't agree with about 99% of what is said, done, or coming out of DC. But instead of taking to Social Media and trying to convince the rest of my friends that I am right, I pray for our country. Everyday. Please do not mistake my silence for support. And there was a time when I would've been going under different circumstance, making a different statement. But times and perspective have changed me. Martin Luther King, Jr said, “We may have come over here in different ships but we are in the same boat now”. In order to get to our destination, we will have to listen and learn to work together or we will sink.
And I take comfort in knowing that the captain of our ship is not a president but a King.