A Reflection on Election Day

And what is to come.
Article by Marissa Liotta
Photos by Izzy Gholl

January 20, 2021

I’m going to be honest: sitting down to reflect on the day President Biden was declared the winner of the election was more difficult than I imagined it would be. Nowadays, I continuously am confronted with images of what happened on January 6th.

The Sunday newspaper was stuffed to the brim with articles about Trump and the individuals that caused the Capitol siege.  I’ve fallen down Facebook comment rabbit holes of people saying those who invaded the Capitol were ANTIFA in disguise, seen Twitter news stories talking of plans to invade other state capitol buildings, and made preparations to hunker down in my home for the Inauguration. How am I supposed to access what I felt that day? The unadulterated joy? In short, the absence of fear that I feel now every day?

The memory comes in snippets; in moments; in particular sensations that permeate the circling anxious thoughts that have become so frequent in my mind.

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At 11:28 EST on November 7th, 2020, I receive a text message from my brother who lives across the country: “Biden was just declared the winner!”

I am already dressed for the day, in shorts and a t-shirt, because it was a random 70-something degree day in Washington, DC in November. I clomp up the stairs to my roommate’s room, where she assumes something is wrong since I just did a dead sprint through the house. All of our windows are open because she had burned bacon that morning. I tell her. We scream. We cry a little. And we immediately finish getting ready to go downtown to McPherson Square and celebrate.

I hear the sound of cars honking as my roommate and I walk from the metro to Black Lives Matter Plaza. Everyone is celebrating; you can feel the relief in the air.

I run into the arms of my friends when we find each other amidst the ever-growing crowd of masked faces. We scream and cry in that way that women in their young 20s do like no one else. It normally would be met with some glances, but today no one seems to mind.

I feel champagne fall on my skin as people climb up streetlights and stoplights and spray bottles of the celebratory alcohol out onto the crowds.

I taste a sun-warmed Truly spiked seltzer that I’ve chosen to chug on a street corner. It’s a day of celebration after all!

I smell a lot of weed.

I see people of all ages, genders, and races. People who are excited to see a terrible man no longer be allowed to represent our country. People who have spent the week prior not sleeping well and keeping an eye on the news. Watching as states counted votes, narrowed the gaps, and eventually switched from red to blue.

I eat really shitty Five Guys grilled cheese while sitting on a curbside.

The last thing I remember from that day is walking home from the metro stop. My feet hurt so badly (don’t wear new shoes to a walking-heavy activity), but I didn’t care. When I laid down on my bed and closed my eyes, I couldn’t stop seeing the people in the street that had surrounded me for the entire day.

At 3:07 EST on January 6th, 2021, I receive a text message from my brother: “Everything okay where you are?”

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My phone lock screen remains a picture of my friends and I from that day. It feels like a long time ago. We knew that day, deep down, it was just the beginning of a longer fight. Nothing immediately changed that day, and nothing will immediately end when Biden gets sworn in. But November 7th serves as a reminder to me that good can prevail. That we can get back up after being knocked down for the past four years. And, perhaps most of all, that on January 20th, when our eyes are glued to our TVs watching Joe Biden get sworn in, that I am not alone in my celebration.