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In the morning, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. I could not vote for him. He is not the stunning businessman that many claim him to be – he has regularly stiffed contractors and left whole enterprises in flames. He treats those with whom he disagrees with a contempt that encourages the worst in people. He did not win a majority of Republican votes in the primaries, and he did not win a majority of votes in the general election (and yes, I still stand by the electoral college), and yet, he won.

I stayed up late on November 8 to watch the election returns. I, like most people, I think, believed that someone else would be our next president. I first was surprised when he won Florida. Then stunned when he won Ohio. And finally dumbfounded when Wisconsin went his way. That was the point at which I thought, “He’s going to do this…He’s going to win.” The networks all held off on Pennsylvania and Michigan. It’s like they just didn’t want to admit it – that Donald Trump had just won the presidency, but they finally capitulated to the inevitable.

Now, that night was not one of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth for me, because the other candidate was this woman.

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Hillary Clinton. I should have been excited by the prospect of the first female president, but I wasn’t, because it was her. If I couldn’t vote for Trump, I absolutely would not vote for Hillary Clinton. The woman who tried to publicly destroy the victims of her husband’s abuse. The woman who ignored requests for additional security from our diplomats in Benghazi and then tried to blame their deaths on some silly video. The woman for whom security protocol does not matter because the rules just don’t apply to her. The woman who will defame and bully people as political payback for her friends and to cover up her own misdeeds.

So I voted third party. I agonized for weeks. I watched as friends tied themselves in self-deceiving knots as they attempted to turn Trump into a moral giant at worst, or the lesser-of-two-evils at best. When I finally came to the conclusion that voting my conscience meant voting third party, I felt absolute peace about the whole awful mess – whoever would win, would win. The funny thing is, I was condemned by my mental-contortionist friends on the right before the election (I was called the “Queen of Arrogance” and passive-aggressive  by two women – ha!), and then denounced by the left afterwards. Save for defending people’s right to make their voice heard through a third party vote, I was utterly detached from the election once I felt confirmed in my choice. It made for an interesting election night. As the results came in with Trump sweeping up electoral votes, my reaction was a mixture of shock and dismay: “Oh my gosh, he’s going to win,”  and glee, “Oh my gosh, she’s going to lose!”

And so, tomorrow, Donald Trump becomes President Trump – tacky, tweeting, bullying, destabilizing, trash-talking, misogynist Donald Trump. The left is beside itself. Sick to their stomach over it. I might be too if it weren’t for one thing they don’t understand: I, and many other conservatives, have been sick to our stomach for a long time. We felt sick when the Clintons abused their positions. We felt sick to see the presidency brought low by a man who suborned perjury to hide his intern giving him blow jobs in the oval office. We felt sick watching a left-leaning media make excuses for them both. We felt sick every time Obama, ignorant of all the facts, jumped to conclusions over and over that endangered the well-being of police officers. We felt sick when we saw our government literally stand by and watch Americans get killed in Benghazi. We have felt sick for a long, long time. To all my Democrat friends I say, welcome to our world.

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We arrived in Fort Worth in January 1990 driving a white VW bug and a red and white bus. It was cold and flat and windy, but it was a city and not the truck stop that Del Rio had been. Rob would be flying the B-52 at Carswell AFB. We could look forward to 3-5 years there before the Air Force moved us to a new base. But something happened along the way. The Cold War ended and so did the Air Force’s need for B-52 pilots. Rob got an early out and began flying for American Airlines and what was supposed to be a temporary home turned into a permanent residence.

What I did not initially understand about the state, I came to love. The people are fiercely independent. They are part western and part southern – the best of both worlds. They love their state, something you begin to understand when you visit the Alamo. It’s hot in the summer. So hot you want to cry. And there are wild flowers, and sunsets, and thunderstorms. And then the calm after the storm.

We bought some land with a small house on it where we could have chickens and cows. We had honey bees for a time. There was a well with naturally soft water that actually tasted sweet. There was also a temperamental septic system that we often cursed. We had pecan trees and oaks, and the squirrels would leap from tree to ground to tree. There were hawks and rabbits and sometimes possums and coyotes. When the weather was pleasant, or we just had a lot of dead wood to dispose of, we would have bonfires. We lived close to the church and often used our house for gatherings – socials, scouts, youth activities.

I remodeled the house and turned it from a ranch home into a little cottage.

We lived through droughts and floods. (Literal and figurative!) We made friends. We raised our children together. We took them to the lake in the summer and carpooled to art classes and music lessons during the school year. We watched them grow up and marry. We celebrated their milestones, made food for their weddings and mourned at their funerals.

In the evenings, we would sit in our living room and look out the window to our pasture.

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I have traded that view for something new and different. Not something I was expecting at all. The something new feels right. But 26 years is a lot of life to leave behind. And as I consider the new and different, I wonder what the next 26 years will have in store for me.

dec-18