What Just Happened?

The election wasn’t supposed to end like this.

When I went to bed Monday evening – after writing about my trepidation for the day ahead – I breathed a small sigh of relief because I thought my fears and anxiety about a Trump presidency would soon be at an end. Election Day itself went by without raising any concerns. I left work that day eager to hear the first round of results, hoping for a swift knockout thanks to Eastern states like Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

But as the night went on, my anxiety returned. Florida appeared lost, as did North Carolina. Virginia was a question mark for too long. Pennsylvania was too close to call for much of the night. But it only got worse from there: suddenly, both Michigan and Wisconsin were in play. This news shocked my girlfriend – an émigré from Michigan – who had never in her life seen the state as anything other than deep blue on the electoral map. Winning the electoral college grew increasingly difficult for Hillary Clinton, and at times even the popular vote seemed to have swung toward Republicans. By the time Donald Trump was declared President-elect of the United States, I was numb. How could this have happened? What would the future of my country look like?

I went on social media and found my friends in various stages of grief: some were crying, some were angry, and everyone was completely gob-smacked. I was up until well past midnight, reading tweets and Facebook posts and live blogs and generally despairing about the outcome.

When I couldn’t do that anymore, I tried to distract myself. I washed dished. I play some Animal Crossing on my 3DS. I put on music. I fully expected not to sleep that night.

But sleep did come, somehow. And when I awoke hours later, the sun had risen, same as always.

The world, it seemed, would go on.

The question now becomes “where do we go from here?”