On election night in 2016, my mom made kir royales. They’re a cocktail consisting of champagne and raspberry liqueur. (Technically it’s supposed to be made with creme de cassis, but they did not have that at Hannaford.) It’s sweet and pink and bubbly. The perfect drink to sip as we watched the returns roll in to elect the first female president of the United States.

I started with the kir royales. Then just straight champagne. Then vodka. I got very drunk that night, and while I eventually gave up alcohol altogether, I never drank a kir royale again.

I cried when they called the Electoral College for Donald Trump. I cried a lot. You can laugh at me if you want. I know a lot of MAGA types enjoy laughing at upset liberals. I was certainly “triggered” that night. I cried because I was scared for the people I love. I am a member of the LGBTQ community, as are many of my friends, and here was Mike Pence, a fundamentalist, one heartbeat away from the presidency. My sister is Muslim, and here was a president who had called for a ban on her community and religion. I was scared for the country I love, and I cried because the world was not as it had seemed. If my life were a novel, and I were the protagonist, Nov. 8, 2016, would be the night the protagonist realizes the world is far darker and complicated than she previously thought.

Four years isn’t that long, chronologically speaking, but it sure feels like it. Quite a lot has changed in my life after four years. My dad got sick, and then died. I descended into alcoholism, and clawed my way out again. Relationships ended, started and ended again. I moved out of my mom’s house and back in again. Louie the Shih Tzu passed away, and Janey the Mutt joined the family. This column wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye four years ago, and now it arrives at the end of the driveway every Sunday (and lines the cat’s litter box every Monday). At this time four years ago, I was planning on moving to Texas to live with my girlfriend. Texas! Can you imagine? Me, the Maine Millennial. Four years ago, I still assumed I would leave Maine, like most people in my age bracket seem to do.

I don’t know what will happen on Tuesday, or in the days afterward, as all the votes are thoroughly counted. I do know that whatever happens, I will live in Maine and stay in Maine and build my life here. This is my home. I can imagine no other.

In the past four years, I have lost my faith in the federal government’s ability to operate. I used to think that if there was a “real emergency,” that Republicans and Democrats could work together to fix it. Post COVID-19, we can see that obviously that isn’t true.

The world seemed to descend into darkness after my dad died. Less than a month after his funeral, the Harvey Weinstein stories broke, #MeToo swept through the internet and huge numbers of powerful men were revealed to be sexual abusers and harassers. Tom Petty, whose music had carried me through my father’s hospice stay and beyond, died on the same weekend as the worst mass shooting in American history. When the horrors of the Trump administration’s family separation policy came to light, I texted my sister: “what do you think Dad would do if he were here?” And she immediately texted back: “re-up his law license and move to El Paso for the summer.” Over 500 children who were separated from their parents at the border have yet to be reunited with them, and now the government says their parents simply can’t be located.

I wish I could say that the past four years have strengthened my faith in the American people, but I’m not allowed to tell lies in this column. I will say that the past four years have strengthened my faith in my family, my community, my state and, most of all, myself. I have walked through fire and come out steel. The Victoria of four years ago would not have thought of herself as strong, smart or powerful. But that’s what I am, and I can carry that into the future. I don’t need my dad to save the day. I can do it myself. No matter what happens Tuesday, the work to make the world a better place continues. Bring it on.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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