Election night was like a nail biting match of tennis. Nishant and I were glued to the screen, chomping down instant noodles and taking only biological breaks. It was the most exciting night since we got married.
It had been six months since our wedding in India. Our honeymoon had been the lockdown, here in the suburbs of Dallas. We were getting used to each other, synching our moods and learning to create space.
There were elements of surprise that surfaced, things that were not evident during our very short long-distance relationship — such as Nishant’s lack of real friends or his inability to sustain a conversation with anyone. I discovered Nishant slept only four hours a day to accommodate his obsession with stock trading. I was also taken aback by his meticulous tracking of expenses that led to buying things only on clearance or avoiding takeout. However, I had been open-minded about this relationship. After three heartbreaks, I was willing to offer this my all.
It was my first time in America. Just like my relationship, I had no great expectations of this place. After all that I had read in the news, I knew it would be a struggle fitting in. I was mentally prepared to be told to return to my country or have limited access to abortion.
I had made a few friends in the neighborhood, all South-Asian immigrants either working in tech or unemployed due to visa restrictions. Any get-together involved discussions around the long path to green card, tech news, buying homes or politics. While I voiced my strong liberal opinions during these discussions, Nishant was not opinionated. He chimed in when specific topics arose like denouncing racism or defending abortion rights.
During the days leading up to the elections we discussed all possibilities of outcome and the consequences if either candidate won. Nishant sent in his mail-in ballot early. I was not eligible to vote yet. My folks back in India were equally interested in this election — as if this would determine the fate of India’s falling GDP.
As the results rolled in, we watched the states turn red or blue one by one. I hated the projections — they confused the hell out of me. It had come down to the last few swing states. Nishant seemed more flustered than usual, walking up and down the room. I was beginning to relax after the news projected a hint of a liberal win. “Relax now, Nishant. We will win this”, I said handing him a glass of wine. “Done with fascism, narcissism, bigotry, misogyny and the lack of empathy. America will be great again!”
“The markets are going to crash if the dems win, Riya”, he snapped in an annoyed voice. I was shocked that we were not on the same page about this. “Capitalism over climate change any day!”, he concluded. And that one sentence shook the the foundation of our relationship — the relationship that was like a carefully stacked tower of Jenga blocks. Would I be able to remove this piece and fit it in somewhere without breaking the damn structure? I wondered.