Despite the fact that this photo is blurry —and that it includes both a water stained ceiling and the photographer’s own thumb— it’s one of my favorite pictures of me. I was nineteen in this photo and had just voted Bill Clinton in for his second term. My first time voting. That’s a super blurry I Voted sticker there on my sweater.
The only reason I have this photo is because I came back to my dorm right after voting, beaming like this, and one of the dudes on my hall was like, “Dude, you are like beaming. I’m going to take your picture.”
Last Tuesday I was in line to vote, behind some college age kids. I had brought along a book (Inherent Vice), mostly to hold in front of my face while I eavesdropped. At one point I overheard the kids in front of me making fun of some friend of theirs who posted a video where she was crying real tears at having just voted for a female presidential candidate. Kids were like, “ugh, drama,” and I mostly agreed. I mean, we were all there to vote for Hillary, but none of us were crying at the historic momentousness of it. We were just voting for the person best qualified for the job, for so very many reasons, her being a woman was pretty low on my list of important reasons to vote for Hillary.
It wasn’t until the next day when it all went to hell that I realized how truly excited I had been to vote-in the first female president. It’s like I had deferred my joy, to be felt on Wednesday when everything was settled, not Tuesday with the actual act of voting.
And then on Wednesday, the day I had reserved for Joy Unbounded, I kept having these split-seconds where I would forget who won the election, and in the moment of forgetting I would feel this overwhelming joy well up in my body, like my body had been storing it and was ready to live it now, but then I’d remember she didn’t win and I’d be emptied out and sick feeling. This happened almost hourly. The rest of the time was spent with waves of realizations of the coming consequences, and revulsion. Like dirty, like I’d been coated in something that won’t wash off for years.
At the same time I was finishing up a project. Secretly, without telling me, my mind had already started in the days before the election to riffle through my fabrics and patterns, planning ahead for glitter-bombs of ruffles and flowers and bows and joy and pride. And then it happened and I thought, “this country does not love you, girl” and that next-project-planning part of my mind turned to a harder, colder, less exuberant version of feminity. Metal, not roses.
Now what’s lined up is this, a Halston from 1975, in gold satin spandex:
I don’t want to get too intense in this post. After all, like: Don’t Sew, Vote. My sewing projects don’t mean anything in the big scheme, they don’t even make a statement that anyone would be able to read except me, but I find it interesting that there was this visceral disconnect between what I’d been expecting to happen and what did happen and that it’s manifesting in clothing, and I wonder if anyone else felt that too.
I would’ve made these patterns anyway, but differently. I had a floral lined up for the jumpsuit. Maybe I’ll come back around to that. I hope so. For now I’m feeling these cold, loud, defiant metallics.
I sure would’ve loved it if someone could be taking another photo of me four years from now, at age 43, voting in President Clinton for her second term, to put beside that first photo. Oh well.
And for a ray of sunshine: as of now in California, plastic shopping bags are illegal but recreational pot is a-ok. And we just elected the second ever African American female senator. And Big Hill won the popular vote nation wide.
This country does love you girl. (Edited. 12/14/16 Just can’t leave this on a hopeful note after all.)