Last night I had three glasses of strong moscato (yes, that seems to be an oxymoron, but the bottle was 12% which is a big deal for a moscato) as I watched Biden edge closer and closer to winning the US presidential election. He was sitting on 253 and Trump on 213 with 99% of Pennsylvania having been counted (and he was 29,000 votes up). How bizarre that I know this detail about an election that isn’t for my country! I went to bed hopeful but nervous – the counting has been going since Tuesday and the media haven’t been keen to call Biden the winner. Luckily Lee woke up a little after 5am so he could go fishing (heading to Berowra for a bass) and I woke up with him – jumped on Facebook and discovered the result! My friend Betsy has been working so hard to get the messaging out there to vote – I remember when Trump was elected and she lived in DC, looking right onto the protests that erupted after his election, she joined many of them too. I can confidently say that Betsy is central to my connection to this election and to America.
Let me tell you a little bit about it…
At 30 years of age, I had never travelled overseas. Never. I was (and still am) a super anxious person and flying just didn’t agree with me. In 2011 this changed. How? Betsy Whalen! She selected me as one of a group of Edmodo users to fly out to ISTE, Philadelphia (Pennsylvania – the connection to the election doesn’t escape me) to attend a huge Edmodo party. I still have a distinct memory of reading that email – I was in a science lab at my former school, I read it on my phone, and I almost fell to my knees with shock. I called Lee and I was crying happy tears and scared tears. As soon as we got to America, we fell in love with it. So much so, that we returned every year for five years (well, we skipped 2015 cos I just started a new job as HT). We visited Betsy at her home in Washington on our last visit in 2016 – we introduced her to Vegemite on toast and chai tea (she wasn’t a fan of the former, haha) and she gave our boys a collection of small gifts to unwrap each day of our road trip (a tradition her mother started when she was a child). One of the things we unwrapped? Donald Trump toilet paper! At this time in 2016, we knew he was running for president, but it seemed so silly. When we returned to Australia, we agreed we wouldn’t use that toilet paper until Trump was kicked out. To be honest, when he caught COVID-19, we hoped to use it (yeah, evil, whatever) but even during the lockdown in Australia back in March when toilet paper was like gold, we refused to use it! (Aside – bet you didn’t expect to read about me using toilet paper on this blog, did you? Haha – sorry!)
This morning, the first person I looked for on Facebook was Betsy. She had worked at the polling station in her area, spending hours counting votes, and she had been glued to the results coming in over the following days. I knew she had a fridge of champagne, she had such hope, she HAS such hope, and it’s remarkable! Commenting on her posts was another friend and former Edmodo superstar, Lucia, and I realised as I was replying to her that once COVID is under control (which at least is more likely to happen with a Democrat president – Biden has already got together a COVID taskforce) then I can finally travel to the States again and see my friends!! I vowed never to return whilst Trump was president. I *know* how real this is for so many other people – people who haven’t seen family for years. It’s a long way away, and we have to continue to be patient, but the result just gives me so much hope for our future that in 2020 had been lost.
For me now, I will continue to watch CNN (which I only discovered I have on my Fetch account) and listening to their analysis. Right now Trump is threatening to disrupt the transition of power to Biden, which is worrying but it doesn’t diminish the celebrations and the sense of hope I feel. When Lee returns from fishing, I’m going to remind him about the toilet paper that Betsy gave us, and he can decide if we wait until 20th January to open it. I’m so relieved for all of my friends in the States who have clearly been suffering this year, and the three prior, and who clearly deserve to breathe a sigh of relief today. I’m looking forward to the excitement of my students tomorrow – they’ve been watching the count on their laptops and phones since last Wednesday (one of my colleagues even called a moratorium on the election because it was so nerve-wracking those first few hours as they counted in-person votes and Trump was pulling ahead) and will be delighted with the result. And I’m just happy for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the American people who fought so hard for this victory. I hope it really does mean change for those who deserve a better life, and I hope it leads to healing and justice and action on COVID. It’s 7am in Sydney, and I’m celebrating with a Bushell’s blue tea, and a little bit of a headache from the moscato.