The Day the World Turned Downside Up

“trump piñatas are still selling well” by jima is shared under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Sometime very early on election day, Riley told me his plans for the Hillary for Nevada Victory Party that night. It was just after six in the morning and the adrenaline and cortisol were already flowing. I was trying to get out of the house and down to the campaign headquarters.

In retrospect, it should have been a red flag, calling it a Victory Party ahead of time, but I didn’t think much of it. Perhaps election night parties are always called something like that; I hadn’t paid close attention before. The party was to be held in the Silver State Pavilion at the Grand Sierra Resort, a giant new-ish casino on the edge of town. Fliers advertised “affordable deli food”; “no host bars” — read: cash — as well as “Giant Screens!” and a generous offering of “Free Wi-Fi!”. Apparently, despite the presumed Victory, the Northern Nevada Democrats weren’t going to lavish their staffers or volunteers with any kind of provisions, let alone luxuries. It was going to be up to us to make this a party. On that note, Riley was 100% prepared to do his part.

He and his wife Natasha, a couple in their early thirties with two little boys, had graciously put me up in their guest room for the previous week and a half. Riley had worked on the last two presidential elections in Reno, but this time he had taken a job with the local school district, doing outreach to the public on behalf of a $2 billion ballot initiative for a state education bond. This campaign season their contribution to the cause was providing “supporter housing” to traveling campaigners like me.

Riley said he was planning to go to the Victory Party after dinner, when all the results would be coming in. He had managed to get his hands on an extra large Trump piñata, and showed me two cases of airline-size bottles of tequila. I think I remember something about tamales. I began to envision how good it would feel to defeat Trump and everything he represented: the racism, xenophobia, sexism, bullying, threats of violence, The Wall, the Deportation Force, the talk of resuming torture, a national stop-and-frisk, climate change is a hoax and the media is the enemy…I could go on, but I have to stop somewhere. What a delirious feeling it would be, what a good party we would have: thousands of like-minded people celebrating that Fascism would not take power in our country, that we’d saved the Republic from this would-be tyrant.

It escapes me what was going to be inside the piñata — maybe those tequila bottles — but I was convinced it would be the culmination of the night and the victory. It felt like being a kid and finding out you were going to the best amusement park in the state. I roughly expressed this idea to Riley, and made sure he knew I wanted to be there when we started taking swings. Grabbed my travel mug of black tea steaming in the morning cold, and got out the door. It was about six thirty in the morning, and I’d probably slept three hours, what with the nerves. No matter — I would sleep after the election was over, or so I thought.

As I drove down to the Washoe County Democratic headquarters, in this office park strip area south of downtown, I was thinking about repudiation. I didn’t just want Trump defeated, I wanted Repudiation, a full rejection and condemnation. For most of the day I manned the “lit” table at the back of the main room; short for literature, referring to the various pamphlets and scripts and paraphernalia of the campaign. The first six days I’d worked out here, like most volunteers I’d been a canvasser, undertaking the thankless but necessary task of knocking on doors that had already been knocked on too many times, in trailer parks and manicured gated communities, down in the trenches of the most toxic election I’d been a part of.

Strangely, in this swing county of a swing state, there were no Trump canvassers at all. One of our staffers had gone over to the Reno GOP headquarters, just to see what was there, and found four people, all paid employees of the campaign, sitting quietly at desks. No one on the phone, no volunteers, eerily quiet. Our counterparts were the Trump supporters themselves, waiting behind doors to tell you to go to hell, back to your own country if you had brown skin or an accent; the sneering and cursing thousands who came out of the woodwork for the Trump rally at the convention center the weekend before. We were battling against a ghost campaign, but one with a lot of followers.

After knocking on a thousand doors, more or less, I had been asked to work at headquarters. On a campaign, if you you keep showing up day after day and show yourself even slightly competent at solving problems, without asking too many questions, you will be put in a position to deal with the other volunteers. Because in a place like Reno, there is such a constant flood of people showing up that it becomes impossible to get anything else done. So for the last week, I’d been training canvassers, stationed at the literature table, providing clipboards with all the necessary materials, keeping the piles of glossy door hangers and pamphlets and fact-check sheets and scripts and stickers in good enough order lest they get away from us, into a swirling pile of promotional chaos that could bring down the whole office. The informal part of this role, as the last person these variously meek or over-enthusiastic volunteers would talk to before they hit the street, was de facto cheerleader and coach.

I knew what they were about to get themselves into, and I knew their expectations were seriously misaligned with reality. It wasn’t going to be as bad as their fears of finding deranged, possibly violent Trump supporters, but it wasn’t going to be anywhere near as good as their hopes to inspire hearts and minds. These canvassers needed to be encouraged and appreciated, but also given achievable goals. “Go get us one vote!” I’d say. “Find us a vote! Every vote counts!” — “Let’s DO this!” Then, when they’d come back a few hours later, I’d ask them how it went, and whether they’d found any people, not even votes, and give them a “Well, we’re fighting the good fight,” — “Thank you for your work,” or “Scraping the bottom of the barrel.” I’d take their packets back and put them in a box where the data entry people would collect them and put all those “Not Home” and “Refused” checkmarks into the system.

All day on election day I performed this role with enthusiasm, occasionally checking the internet for news — there wasn’t any news — tensions rising, nerves strung up in knots, staying awake on no sleep with the help of regular and liberal doses of caffeine, nicotine and refined sugar, as the specter of the inevitable comedown off days and days of adrenaline kept rearing its ugly head. Sometime in the afternoon I noticed that the data entry people weren’t taking the completed packets anymore. There wasn’t any point taking in data now, the chips would fall where they may.

At around five o’clock, still with absolutely no idea how the election was going, the main field organizer declared it was all hands on deck, that everyone needed to go out knocking doors, a last stand to get out the vote before the polls closed at 7. I took a packet of addresses and a clipboard, and headed out to North Reno as dusk was advancing on the city from out of the desert, the autumnal sun retreating behind Sierras dusted with snow.

These last hours of the campaign, I wandered around a residential neighborhood, trying to make out street addresses in the gathering dark, hoping to find one potential voter who hadn’t decided whether to vote or not, had forgotten it was election day, or didn’t know where their polling place was — just one.

I was knocking in the face of devastating voter fatigue; mostly no one answered. When someone would come to the door, I’d say “Hello. My name is Gabriel, with the Washoe County Democrats, and this is your Very Last Knock of the election season. Congratulations! You’ve made it!” It was the nicest people had been to me the whole campaign. “Good luck,” they said, “Fingers crossed.” Everyone said they’d already voted — I only found one person who admitted he hadn’t, an older Latino man, but he insisted he wasn’t going to. “Not gonna vote. I’m done with it,” he said. “They’re all liars.” No amount of persuasion on my part, mentions of Trump or the wall would change his mind.

Five minutes before 7, I gave up and walked back to my car. That was that, we’d done what we could, nothing more to do but wait. The night was turning cold. In no rush to get anywhere, I turned on my car radio and rolled down the windows, stood outside listening and looking at the sky, finally getting my first real news of the day. It wasn’t good. Virginia was too close to call. Trump was winning in Florida. Ohio, too.

Further doses of hydration, caffeine and sugar were needed to keep up the flagging energies. On my way back to HQ, I stopped into a convenience store. Overcoming abject confusion, I settled on hot chocolate and coconut water. At the register, I was greeted by two South Asian young men in their early twenties. As they rang me up, I asked “Did you all vote?”, unable to stop campaigning. “Nah,” they said in unison. “What about Trump?” I asked. “He’s funny,” one of them said, as if this was all just entertainment.

For some months, I’d had a rising anxiety that Trump was going to win, despite all evidence to the contrary. He’d done and said things that should have ruined a hundred candidates; he was consistently far behind in the polls; his campaign had no ground game at all. It wasn’t even clear he actually wanted to win. There was no way he should win: a tape was released a month ago in which he boasted about assaulting women and grabbing them “by the pussy”. But I’d had this persistent fear in the back of my mind that this country might just be twisted enough to elect him President.

In a way it made sense: Trump is the ugly archetype of American Man, the ultra-capitalist, no ethic except for that of power, the loudmouth, the liar, the man who always gets his way. Somehow this vestigial limb of the 80s who rode the flotsam of B-list celebrity and used multiple bankruptcies to hang on until the era of reality TV, was close to assuming the levers of power. I never watched a single second of “The Apprentice” but I’m afraid a lot of other people did, and that they liked it.

That’s why I was in Reno: I was afraid that Trump might win. If there was anything I could do to stop it I had to try, and at least have the consolation of knowing I did something. It was certainly not to campaign on behalf of Hillary. Back in the summer, I wrestled with whether I could in good conscience knock on people’s doors and tell them they should vote for her. It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong with her; she’s just so deep in the vein of the neoliberal, corporatist, imperialist party establishment that in so many ways it would only be quietly continuing the evils of this country. But given the alternative, I got over my reluctance. Her administration would make solid incremental progress on climate change, on health care, on child care. It would be much better for people of color, for immigrants, for working people. Mostly she had campaigned on not being Trump, and in the end that was good enough for me, but I didn’t know if it was good enough to win.

The really surprising thing was that the people who should have been most into Hillary, like the main organizers in Reno, weren’t, even the women. It was all utilitarian, a sense of duty or personal ambition. It had not been an inspiring campaign. This was so different than working on the Obama campaigns, where people top to bottom had drunk the kool-aid and had that light of inspiration in their eyes.

When I got back to headquarters the main room was set up as a viewing area — fifty or so people in folding chairs watching a huge screen showing election results on MSNBC. The room was eerily quiet. “How is everybody?” I asked. Assorted groans and non-verbal sounds of foreboding. Eyes glued to the electoral map, ears tuned to pundits pontificating into the night. Didn’t look like anyone was in a hurry to get to the Victory Party, which had started an hour before. I decided to wait for some good news before heading over there and took a seat among the grim faces.

Over the next hour, the night began to take its shape. Virginia goes blue, while Ohio is red. Guess all those rallies in Cleveland with Lebron and Beyonce and the Obamas weren’t enough. Colorado and New Mexico blue; North Carolina red. Then, just before 8 o’clock, Florida goes for Trump. It is very, very hard to win a US Presidential election and lose both Ohio and Florida. A number of people start collecting their things and saying goodbye, like they’ve seen enough.

Hillary basically needs to run the table from here. As we all think this through, when it is clear that Hillary has to win Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and is trailing in all of them, my mind tries to wrap itself around the idea of a President Donald Trump. I always knew he could win, and was afraid it would happen, but still, I never seriously imagined a world in which he was President of the United States. It was impossible, a bad movie I wouldn’t want to watch.

Various sources of alcohol begin to appear around the room: red wine, whiskey, vodka. One of the organizers pours me a big glass of brandy. Kind soul. Strange and unlikely miracles are bandied about: maybe there was a huge late turnout of Latinos in Arizona — maybe somehow Alaska? Georgia? Someone makes a declaration straight out of the Book of Jonah: “Whatever Gods you believe in, now is about the time to start praying to them.” I hear a “Hail Mary, mother of God” from the back of the room, and call back with my best “Shema, Yisrael…” People are envisioning a scenario in which it might all come down to Nevada, but I can’t figure out the math that would lead to that.

A bit after nine, while my mind is still scurrying along the paths of the Electoral College Labyrinth, looking for deliverance, my gut is sure. Not only would there be no repudiation, there would be a full affirmation by the voters of the United States of America, of everything Trump’s campaign represented. If you had asked me in that moment, I might have said any number of things, but down in my core, I knew. The worst was true. If there was any good news coming, it wouldn’t be for a very long time.

There was only one place for a person in my black-hearted condition: the Hillary for Nevada Victory Party. It would be a ghastly party, but it was precisely the right place for me. Maybe Riley would still bring the piñata. But then it struck me — we would be smashing the image of the President-Elect on election night, which is a way more symbolic act than it had appeared before. Shit. Either way, I had to see this out, ride the raft into the dark waters ahead. I wished everyone at the headquarters good luck, to a chorus of groans, thanked them for their work, then walked out of those doors for the last time.

Image by leyink is shared under Creative Commons License CC BY 2.0

The Grand Sierra Resort is on Reno’s eastern outskirts, with an endlessly vast parking lot on three sides; beyond is scrubland that becomes the suburb of Sparks. I parked at the very edge of the lot, a hundred spaces away from the next car. It seemed safer somehow, like I would be the first to evacuate from the impending disaster.

Inside the main entrance I am met with the light, flash and chiming of the casino floor, walking along the precipice of this chasm of chance. Then down several wide corridor hallways, before arriving at a giant set of stairs leading to another corridor and, finally, the cavernous subterranean hangar which is the Silver State Pavilion.

There are gigantic video screens on one side of the room, balloons, VIP sections for the fancier people, scattered table bars doing good business. There are unconvincing, unfamiliar speakers onstage trying to rally the room of several thousand people spread out across the expanse. The vibe is unsettled, furtive, chaotic: exhausted people up to their ears in suppressed emotion.

I find some people I’d been campaigning with, and we talk about nothing, just small talk about our days and nights that we know is insignificant, but we can’t talk about the election, because the only thing to say is that Trump is going to win and no one can bear to say it. What we can talk about is how much we are freaking out and how long we’ve been freaking out and all the damage it has already done to our nervous systems.

I need a drink, and there are lines of people at all the little bars. Keep walking until I see an empty bar; a young blonde bartender in her early twenties, with an altogether different energy than everyone else in the room. She is bored at work at some catering gig, but seems to me unencumbered, light, almost cheerful. I know in an instant why, and I crave her buoyancy.

“You seem to be in a very different mood than everyone else here,” I say. She kinda shrugs. “You’re having a good night?” “Yeah,” she says, with a little bit of a country accent, “I guess.” She knows what I’m getting at. I let her off the hook. “I’ll take a beer. Sierra.” When she has fetched it and taken my money, with beer in hand I feel the courage to try again. “What would you say to someone going through a very difficult night?” — as if submitting to her oracular wisdom.

She considers this. “When Obama won, everybody said it was the End of the World. They were gonna take away the guns, turn it all into socialism, with death panels. Everybody was losin’ their shit. And none of that happened. So maybe this won’t be so bad for you, either.” Somehow this seems to help. She shrugs again, and looks out on the crowd of lost souls. Despite her obvious leanings, she doesn’t seem to be taking pleasure in our distress. I thank her and wander out into the crowd.

Who even knows what we do for the next hour, all of us in that room. It seems we are all just floating along the channels and islands of distressed human energy, finding people we knew or had interacted with, talking what talk could be talked, swept along to nowhere, but everyone has to keep going somehow. Riley texts me that he isn’t coming to the party. Who can blame him?

Reality — which is really just a name for the crushing gravity of the future, telling us what actually will be, as opposed to any illusory ideas of what we think or want or need — falls hard on us at half past ten. People start saying it to each other, whispering, gasping, and then it comes on the big screen. “Breaking News: Pennsylvania called for Trump.” Fucking Pennsylvania. Fucking Trump. Fucking Hillary Clinton, couldn’t win Pennsylvania, which hadn’t voted for a Republican President in twenty eight fucking years. Language descends into obscenity. I examine the giant map of the country, under the graphic saying that Trump has 264 electoral votes, and figure out that if Trump wins any of Arizona, Michigan or Wisconsin, it’s over. Which means it’s over. And we all know it.

The next hour is absolutely surreal. The cognitive gymnastics necessary to keep functioning are debilitating. Our realities have cracked. No one is visibly leaving, but the number of people in the room is steadily diminishing, as if they were seeping into the walls through osmosis, while the hundreds and hundreds who remain have lost any semblance of normalcy. Other than things like “I can’t believe it,” no one is talking about the election, but rather the existential crisis they are suddenly confronting. Everyone is talking to everyone; any conceptions of knowing people or normal things to talk about are gone. People are crying, laughing, talking about their LIVES, like the meaning of everything they’ve done and believed in has been altered.

I talk to a woman lawyer, who is considering becoming a buddhist nun. A banker who says he’s going to Thailand to build a hut on the beach. An actress from LA who doesn’t think she can act anymore. They’re not joking. In this moment these seem like rational responses to the situation. Without any warning, conversations dissipate, and you find yourself having the exact same conversation: a man who is a real estate agent but is going to quit to campaign for immigrant rights, and someone else that neither of you know has joined in, saying that we have to get out of the country before they start arresting Democrats. Not in a panicked way but just as a sensible reminder. Those Trump supporters on the way to the rally had warned us, as we were carrying campaign placards on the sidewalk, driving by in their souped up trucks, leaning out the window to yell “You’re going to JAIL, all you socialists!” Obama was still technically the President, so we have a little time. I tell the people I’m talking to that I’m going to Uruguay, and they think that’s a brilliant idea, and I walk away, outside. I need air and a cigarette, space.

Outside it is dark and cold and quiet. I am standing in a roped-in area outside of an exit door, with many many stories of casino hotel above. A catering server is having a cigarette, too. I call Chris, my best friend since I was fourteen, back in Virginia. It is after two in the morning there, but I know he will be up. He sounds level-headed if also out of his mind. I tell him where I am, and it is very useful for sanity’s sake to talk to someone who is not at the Hillary for Nevada Victory Party.

Despite his outside perspective, he also says we need to leave the country, and soon, but not because of some coming arrests; he doesn’t want to stay in a country that would elect Donald Trump President. I tell him that it’s time for me to go to Uruguay, and he is supportive. He has been to Uruguay once, for a day, and way he describes it, the place is coated in golden sepia for me, where everyone just sits around and drinks yerba mate. “When?” he asks. I can’t do it right away — for one thing, I don’t have any money to speak of. The pay for volunteer canvassers is in snacks and caffeinated beverages, and before that I’d been living in the Bay Area for a couple years, where the pay is great but the costs are greater.

Let’s see, it’s November… “I think I could leave by March, but will that be too late?” “I don’t know,” he says. “What about you?” I ask. “I don’t know. But we gotta get out of here.” It will be hard for him. He is married with a little girl; owns a house. I don’t have anything. Our conversation ends somehow, and it’s time for me to get out of the Silver State Pavilion, at the least.

As I walk through the room, someone onstage is announcing to a much-abbreviated crowd that we have won Nevada and elected Catherine Cortez Masto the first Latina Senator in U.S. history. This small consolation is met with heartfelt if dampened cheers, as I leave the room and climb up the gigantic stairs. It feels like I have taken a lot of drugs, but in fact I probably had two beers in the last two hours. Down the long corridors which open on the casino floor; I walk along the periphery, past bars full of people, tv screens like strobe-lights all blasting the election.

I see on a Breaking News scrolling title that Trump has won Wisconsin, and keep walking, around and around, but I can’t find the entrance or in this case the exit. There doesn’t appear to be any way out of the casino. I take some hallways off but they just lead back to the floor. Maybe this is a different casino room? I feel strangely muted, not entirely in control of my body. Then, walking past a bar, someone with a remote control turns up the volume: a talking head declares that Hillary has called Trump to concede.

The bar area erupts into whooping and hollering and people are cheers-ing beers, hi-fives all around, chest-bumps. They’re all guys, white jock-type country bros. No, there are some women too. But all the ecstatic people are white. Down on the floor around several craps tables whole crowds are cheering, some well-to-do men lighting up cigars. I can hear chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” coming from somewhere. This here, the casino floor itself, must be the Trump Victory Party. It is a nightmare. To be fair, the silent majority of people aren’t celebrating, just playing their slots or table games with tunnel vision and without emotion.

I want to get away from this, and make one more long loop around the floor, more carefully now, examining any possible signs of an exit. Seeing a casino employee I ask how you get outside to the parking lot, and they tell me to walk straight across the floor. This is probably the protocol: anyone who asks for directions to leave should be sent into the heart of the casino.

Once I’m down there, any restraint is thrown to the winds of secondhand cigarette smoke, vapors of boozy breath and the sounds of sick people cheering for a toxic man who has become their hero. Life feels hopeless, so it doesn’t matter if I lose my money, which I know I will. I realize that I want to lose it: some kind of self-flagellation. I don’t want to have this money that’s in my wallet when I walk out of here, if I am ever able to leave.

Usually, when choosing a table, I look for a good vibe, where people seem like they’re having a good time, which would indicate that the cards and dealer are hot. But in this case I want the opposite. I choose the saddest dead blackjack table, where I don’t like the vibe at all, though the elderly dealer does seem a decent sort of man from the start. Silver-haired, late-sixties, he has a dignity to him. But the people sitting around the table are straight out of Fellini.

The posture is all inescapable decay, the weight of years pushing down. I take a seat and size up my fellow gamblers. A drunk late-middle-aged woman with an eyepatch, an elderly man with a significant hunchback, two pale uncomfortable men who from their dress and mannerisms are not from this country. One seems Chinese, the other Eastern European. No one is talking, just looking at their cards and drinking their drinks.

I take out the fifty five dollars from my wallet and buy in. Consider betting it all on the first hand, but have the thought that if I can’t find my way out of this casino, I’d at least like to play for a little while before I lose. So I put down two chips. Blackjack. It is the least satisfying Blackjack I’ve ever gotten. I give the dealer a twenty dollar tip and double my bet. I get dealt a pair of kings.

A pair of kings is a solid blackjack hand. You never want to split face cards in blackjack- you’d have two hands of ten and counting, versus one of twenty. I indeed split. Everyone at the table perks up. I realize that I am playing the wrong way, disturbing their game, taking cards that are meant for other players. “I’m sorry,” I say. “It’s okay,” the dealer says. He deals me an ace and a queen, both of which are winning hands. People around me are quietly shaking their heads. I am losing my bearings. I give the dealer twenty dollars more and increase my bet again, now committed to playing the game the right way.

I don’t win every single hand, but most of them. I take no joy in this. I am betting fifty dollars a hand, which I never do. My stack is growing and growing. It dawns on me that this is how I am going to lose, by not being able to when I want to. This might be some Jedi mind-trick of gambling, that wanting to lose makes you win. I tell the dealer that I don’t even want to win, and he says “that’s how it works.” But of course this could never be a strategy for winning, because in that case you wouldn’t actually be trying to lose.

Trump’s words are ringing in my head: “you’re gonna be so sick and tired of winning,” “winning, winning, winning” and I am, already, sick of it, here in the first hours of his era. This motherfucker was gonna get a goddamn era.

At some point when I have gotten up the courage, and don’t care much anymore,

I ask the table a question, knowing I am crossing a line. “If you could say in one word what you feel about what happened tonight, the election, what would it be?” This is not the kind of thing that ever happens at a blackjack table. The dealer waits to deal the next hand; we have stopped playing. The woman with the eyepatch says “ha!”, like it is an impossible request, or judgement on all us fools. The old hunchbacked man says “eh…“, like “meh”, but with less surety, a sound of resignation. The eastern european makes a sound like “mmm” and the asian guy just shakes his head. No one has actually said a word yet. I look at the dealer and he says: “sad,” and I love him for it. I say “I’m scared”.

I see that while no one knows what to say about it, no one here is celebrating. I decide that they are really quite lovely in just their way. We are some kind of temporary family of broken human strangers, and it is almost certainly the most real experience I have ever had at a blackjack table.

For a nonsensical hour I keep winning until I have more than five hundred dollars in front of me, not counting the few hundred I’ve given the dealer. No one else is making much, but no one has left, either. Usually at a blackjack table, people are coming and going, busting out or getting bored, but we all just sit there. I am going through the motions of playing, barely paying attention. It doesn’t matter: I’m going to win, and if I lose, it won’t be for long. We talk a little bit: the eastern european guy is from the Ukraine. The dealer does black and white landscape photography. The lady is very drunk and nearly incoherent.

Then suddenly I know that I have to leave. I’ve been up for over twenty hours on a couple hours sleep and can’t manage this much longer. I pull back my chips from the bet circle. “Good luck,” the dealer says, “It will be okay.” I almost believe him. “Thank you for having me,” I say to the group. No one else says anything, they just look at their cards and chips.

The next morning I come out into the kitchen to find Riley and Natasha drinking coffee. They seem shaken. Their boys have gone to stay with Grandma. None of us has slept worth a damn. We share stories. We are shell-shocked. Hungover and exhausted don’t begin to describe the state I am in. I offer them all I can summon at the moment: that when faced with a very challenging situation, the only thing to do is to get a good breakfast. I may or may not reference my Grandmother insisting that my Grandfather have a bit of breakfast before he ran off to war on the morning of Pearl Harbor in Honolulu. Perhaps I just think about it. Either way they accept this deep and abiding wisdom I am offering. Half an hour later we are walking out to the car.

I go to get in the back, but there is a large object, covered in a sheet. I touch it and it’s curved and oddly shaped, reminding me of a large manakin. Oh No. “Riley, what is this,” I say, in slight horror. “Oh shit, yeah,” he says. None of us can even begin to fathom what to do with the extra large Trump piñata that is lying across the backseat. We are flummoxed; aghast, but we lack the energy to feel very much. In an act of extraordinary heroism, Riley picks it up and hauls it to the garage. I can’t even watch.

On the way to the diner we consider what he should do with it, now that it’s a piñata of the president. We discuss smashing it, throwing it away, leaving it by the side of the road; keeping it for four years from now, when maybe he could bring it to another party — but then he’d be living with a Trump in his house for four years. None of the options seem plausible or right, and it feels like a perfect symbol of the situation we find ourselves in. Once you get a Trump, it’s very hard to get rid of it.

We eat a good diner breakfast and drink a great deal of water. I am grateful for their company. Afterwards I slowly pack up my things, clean the room I’ve been staying in, and by early afternoon, I am driving south into the desert, away from Reno, into the Trump era.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store