Aftermath

The night Trump was elected I tried to set up a booty call. Wanted someone else’s bare skin pressed against mine. Sent a text to my fuck buddy assuming he’d be down but he was too tired. “This weekend, probs,” he said.
The night after Trump was elected I asked the guy I was dating if he could comfort me — asked if “we were there yet,” as if being there for someone requires a certain amount of compulsory drinks/dinners/get-togethers to be warranted. Told him I’d been having nightmares of men grabbing me and I wasn’t able to escape. “Not all men would do that, though,” he said.
The third day after Trump was elected I sat crying in the lobby of Planned Parenthood. Tried to pay attention as a physician told me which pill to swallow daily to prevent something unwanted. “Side effects should be minimal,” she said.

The days and nights following blurred together. Tried to drink; couldn’t stomach more than one beer. Went to yoga, hoped it might get me to unwind — stiffened every time the teacher touched me without asking. Chick flicks helped, sort of. For hour and a half intervals I could pretend men chasing after women would always lead to a happy ending, like women choosing love over their careers time and time again was honorable, worthwhile. I swooned as young Heath Ledger kissed a paintball splattered Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You and tried my hardest not to wonder if after the credits their romance would deter her from following her dream of attending Sarah Lawrence. I fell asleep at 8 PM to the soundtracks of 90’s rom-coms trying to drown out the news only to wake up in the middle of the night, confused and alone on the couch with only a few hours before reality could set back in.
I practiced self-help on a shaky loop. Normalized a routine when all I wanted was to scream this is not normal. Gave up on self-help. Called myself a bad feminist for wanting a man’s company at a time like this, for putting my worth in someone else’s gruff hands. Thought back to when he asked, “Whose pussy is this?” and I replied, “Yours,” without hesitation because giving away ownership of my body wasn’t something I used to fear. Remembered what it was like to orgasm without feeling like it was some sort of political statement.
A week later I caught myself laughing — genuine, unapologetic laughter — and stopped short. Told myself it wasn’t OK to be happy, not at a time like this. Put my somber face back on, the one that goads strangers into unsolicited pep-talks of, “Smile, sweetheart.” Felt guilty any time it cracked. Felt like I should be spending more time crying but every part of me was too tired. Too numb. Couldn’t sift through all the stages of grief quickly enough so settled for a half-hearted mixture instead. Picked fights with my mother over her dating life. Picked fights with anyone who would let me. Was offered countless hugs and accepted them timidly, unsure how to approach this overwhelming need to be held tight yet left alone. Dreaded anyone asking how I was really doing.

Two weeks later, I’m not really sure.

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