Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hope Floated and Then It Sank

The thrill that I experienced at the voting booth as I ticked off Hillary's name for President yesterday came as a bit of a surprise for me. I was completely convinced that she was the right choice, but all along, her gender was not the biggest reason for me. But, there it was. A woman for President of the United States on the ballot. I smiled as the chill and thrill of excitement ran through me, hope soaring,  and enjoyed the moment. And I had big plans for the day, on my way to the Javits Center, the proverbial glass ceiling, to reportage with my friend and extraordinary reportage artist and illustrator, Veronica Lawlor, where, of course, we were bound to celebrate. As we all know now, not to be. The hurt, anger, frustration and fear is settled like a cloud around me and the MAJORITY of the country, mind you, for Hillary won the popular vote.
Below are some drawings from the day- from waiting on line to vote, to waiting to get into Javits  Center, to being ushered out to the "block party" and ultimately, to close-by Frazier's Bar, where the whole place was pro-Hillary, but the scene of all hope lost. Plenty of pantsuits. There are bound to be many moments in the coming years that are worthy of fighting for and against - and to document.

The morning started out with great anticipation. I stood on line on the UWS for close to an hour but no matter- it was a beautiful morning with great conversation. Exciting to see the turnout to vote.

Following the vote, I was on my way to meet up with Veronica. While waiting, there were a few peeps boasting their "I Voted" stickers. The UWS is liberal and there was also a fair share of "I'm with her" buttons and thumbs up!
We made it down to the Javits Center, and were really excited to be in a good spot on line. The calendar date belied the heat of the sun, all the better for drawing outside. A congenial bunch of folks, not too demonstrative. In hindsight, kind of sad and telling- I believe that we all thought the outcome was a given, and that perhaps, we were conserving our energies for that moment later that night. The crowd was kind of young and diverse. There were lots of women in white, lots of "Nasty Women," lots of chatter, getting to know you, sharing pics, buttons, and even, sunscreen! 

The NYPD kept it all in order. Balloons flying, a quiet sense of calm and joy. 

Suddenly, the line started to move us down the block and across the street. Could this be happening?! We had an email confirmation, not a coveted orange ticket, but away we went. We just could not believe that we got in! Beaming from ear to ear, we flashed our email-(it could have been anything, really) and were ushered into the vast, characterless vacuum of the Javits Center, into a holding "pen"- divided into the 'haves' and 'have nots'- that is the real ticket holders and us. There we sat for another two hours, waiting, watching. By this time, more pantsuits had arrived. Having grown into my working life wearing one, it amused me, and I loved watching that sisterhood emerge. Occasionally, a modest effort to galvanize the crowd with a chant for Hillary rumbled, 
but again, the energy seemed to be in a measured conservation mode.

As afternoon turned to early evening, the golden glow of the sun faded through the windows. 
Soon, the security would usher us through the airport like gates, and send us out- to the street! And to the "Block Party." Whaaaat? Here we were, on 11th Avenue. under the center, that glowing H sign and coupled with hundreds of other H supporters, clamoring for info, a glimpse of the candidate, 
a way back inside. It was coming up on 7pm. Reports that Hillary was not going to show up until 11pm. No one at that time had any notion of what was in store. Food trucks opened, lines formed, more hanging out, meeting new folks, sharing stories and waiting. 
Ronnie and I decided that we needed to make a move- that just maybe we needed to get to another venue, or a bar, or just get home and celebrate in comfort. So, off we headed to 11th Avenue. As we waited for my bus, we realized that we were across from Clyde Frazier's Bar, and through the windows, we saw that results were starting to show up. Off we went. Seemed like a lot of people from the Javits Center had the same idea. We hunkered down in the midst of an all Hillary crowd. From an artistic viewpoint, this was the material we were looking for. These people were emotive, feeling every sway, every update. The collective cheer when she was ahead in Florida was all encompassing, and lit up the room.

But then, reality started to set in. The bar kept filling, it did not get any quieter, but the expression and body language was all too telling. There were reporters and statisticians, a constant flow of beers, fries, all the while on their phones, laptops, tablets, furrowed brows, eyes never leaving the screens. 

Ronnie and I were much the same. Though we kept our hands moving, we felt every jab, every shocking report. "How could this be happening?!" The collective thought that is still reverberating throughout New York, certainly, and the country.

And then, it became just too painful to stay. 
We left together, proud that we carried our hope, recorded history. 


Jessie Chapman said...

Love these images, Melanie. A difficult night and you've captured it beautifully. Thanks.

Marina Grechanik said...

Brilliant drawings, Melanie. I love especially your Post-It people ;)
two years ago we had very similar elections, with a lot of hope provided us by the surveys and a big shock at the morning after... What can I say, keep on sketching!

Joan Tavolott said...

Wonderful sketches, Melanie! You did a great job capturing each stage of your day. How I wish the final result was different!!!

Veronica Lawlor said...

Melanie, your drawings say it all. Such a great experience to have had together, no matter the outcome! And now, as you said, plenty more moments to come to fight for and against. Peacefully, as we have the privileges to do. xx

Orling Dominguez said...

Melanie, I've enjoyed your writing and drawings very much, you had capture it to the point. I, as you, went to sleep early that day after seeing enough in the news, just couldn't take it. Loved this post!


Thanks to you all, my strong women friends. With just a little bit of distance, it is easier to say that this has been a significant moment in time that I hope will propel us forward and make us all stronger. Glad that you are with me.