Somehow, a rift erupted in the space-time continuum last night. I awoke this morning in a parallel universe in which the world had gone completely mad.
As I put my 12-year-old daughter to bed last night, I told her that we would awake in that other universe – the one where, less than 100 years after American women were given the right to vote, a woman would become President of the USA, the most important job in the whole world. “Wow!” she marveled. “Maybe I can become President too one day!”
“Weeeeell, actually,” I hesitated, “the US Constitution forbids anyone born overseas from becoming President.”
“Total Unfair!” she protested in Germish.
“But think about it, if the Constitution was changed to give women the right to vote, then it’s possible to change it to allow American citizens born abroad to run for President.” I spun optimistically. “And then it certainly wouldn’t take another 100 years for one of them to succeed.”
Reassured, she fell asleep peacefully, as did I shortly after. I was too tired to stay up watching CNN all night.
As my alarm clock woke me this morning, I arose and reached for my iPhone. I hesitated, remembering the awful feeling I had sixteen years ago when the last-minute projections turned out to be worthless the next morning. “What if…?” I asked myself. Nah! Couldn’t be. Nevertheless, I braced myself just in case and opened the NY Times app.
My daughter, unaware of the election results, awoke with a bad headache and sniffles, but after some prodding she got ready to go to school and came all groggy to the breakfast table. How would I break the bad news to her? I opted to say that nothing was decided yet, only that Trump was in the lead.
But even that much information was enough to convince her that she was not up for going to school today. Perhaps she sensed that, being a foreign-born woman, she would never have a chance at becoming a President. More likely, she picked up on the state of depressed shock I was unable to hide (she is a very empathetic young lady).
I sent her back to bed and wanted to crawl back under the covers myself, except that I’d already drunk two cups of coffee. Now, four hours later and dozens of articles, opinion pieces and facebook posts digested, I’m still wondering if this is just a horrible nightmare. Nope. I’ve pinched myself so often that bruises are evident. The NY Times has called the election for Mr. Trump. Just waiting for Hillary to concede before the next stage of grief kicks in.
And I wonder what to tell my daughter when she awakes. Once she’s feeling better, there’s one thing I know I’ll be doing: marching her to the district office to have her soon-to-expire Austrian passport renewed. And perhaps I’ll make a few, more personal inquiries while I’m there.