My flight was scheduled to leave PDX at 6:10 am, which meant I had to get there at 4:30 am, which meant I wouldn’t be going to sleep that night. I can rarely shut my eyes before two, and I operate better on no sleep than on less than three hours. So I put on a pot of coffee around midnight, and spent the next four hours flooding my body with caffeine and THC, binge-watching 30 Rock, then racing cup after cup on Mario Wii, soundtracked by the Orb. At 4 am I called an Uber and headed to the airport. It was November 10, 2016. I had been living for less than 48 hours with the knowledge that Donald Trump would be our next President, but the whole year had already been so horrible, I had been taking refuge in ambient house music for months.
The airport was crowded. I’ve flown out of PDX countless times, and was surprised at how many international travelers were departing that morning. Had they all rescheduled their flights to get out of here as soon as possible, before they were all rounded up and deported, or worse? What a mad time to be visiting the US, or to be watching the US, or to be the US.
I felt paranoid, and not without good reason. I tried to peer into the mind and soul of every strange face I encountered. For whom had they voted? Were they friend or foe? I can see no stronger line in the division of this country than one’s feelings about a Trump presidency. Some are feeling a powerfully enabled joy; others, a crushing, defeated sadness. I reside firmly in the latter category. The sadness I feel, and hopefully the anger as well, will dissipate. But in the anti-Trump camp I will reside, until I die. I’m not visiting.
The flight was a blur. I drifted in and out of consciousness, sounds and images from my sleepless night swirling in my head like a dream: Birdo in the Super Blooper. Tracy Does Conan. “Little Fluffy Clouds.” I opened my eyes to see Delta was showing this year’s Ghostbusters remake on its tiny screens. I wondered how, in this culture of swelling misogyny, were we ever going to elect a female president? This country, overpopulated with crying, hate-filled manbabies, couldn’t even deal with women ghostbusters. I closed my eyes, hoping that when I awoke we would be in New York, or back home in Portland, or it would be January 2021, and Bruce Springsteen or Taylor Swift was about to be inaugurated.
We landed at JFK around two in the afternoon. I thought of JFK, then thought of Trump again. I wondered if Trump would have a presidency similar to JFK’s: short, with an exciting ending. We took a Lyft to our Airbnb in Williamsburg. We ate pizza, played pinball, and watched Guardians of the Galaxy on cable. I finally crashed around nine, and slept for about 15 hours.
New York is the city that never sleeps, but it’s the first place I got a good night’s sleep since hearing the worst news of my life.