Be the change you want to see in the world. – Gandhi
[Election cake, November 2008.]
This morning I woke with a start: I thought I’d overslept, but it was just the time change that made it seem so, and I was actually up before the alarm. As I lay in bed I remembered: today’s the day everything could change and while that might seem grandiose and ridiculous, I really believe it’s possible. Oh, I have to believe.
So I hopped out of bed, my stomach in nervous knots of excitement after dreaming all night of speeches and rallies and ballots. I photographed my election cake and packed up the pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies I baked by candlelight (more on this later) last night for my office in order to distract ourselves from what is surely to be the longest day in the history of the universe. And then I left for my polling place.
I’m lucky because it’s so close — literally just a block away from my apartment and also on the way to my bus. I figured at 7.30 I would be able to zip in and out — especially since I was armed with my written-out list of yay or nays on the many (seriously many) ballot measures both for SF (24) and CA (10, I think) and oh yeah, the presidential race — not to mention I have never, ever seen anyone else there that early in the morning. I cranked up the ole ipod and sped off through the chilly morning … to be greeted with a line of about 20 people. At 7.30 a.m.
And, oh, I was so happy to see them! No, really I was even though it was cold and I didn’t have gloves. I dug out my scarf and wrapped it warmly round and looked up at the blue, blue sky: no rain today, thank goodness. We all shivered companionably together and made small talk and the line moved slowly but everyone was in such a good mood — you could just feel the hope and optimism there. This is why I love election day, and the night before: everything still is possible, anything still can happen. There is chance, there is possibility, and these are beautiful things. I don’t know what will happen during the rest of the day, but seeing all the little older ladies — some with walkers and canes — standing in line to cast their votes just … well, it made me a little emotional, it truly did.
Feeling part of something is why I like to go cast my vote in person. My parents, retired though they are, vote absentee (though they voted for years at the school up the hill; I remember when the election was called for Reagan and my mom hadn’t voted yet since California was three hours behind most of the country — she was damned her vote would count and went up to cast it, anyway), but I voted absentee for far too long when I lived on the East Coast (never could give up that California residency) and that little thrill is still there. Of course California will go for Obama, but I wanted to plug in my small say anyhow; not to mention there are two very important statewide measures (props. four and eight) that my NO needs to help defeat.
So I crashed through my ballots and put them through the machine and when the bus came it was packed, but I spied an orange coat and knew it was my fun coworker and we chattered happily away all the way down Market St. and walked into work together. It is an exciting day, a blue-and-gold-and-sunshine day. I have drunk my free coffee very industriously and have watched SNL political clips with my coworkers and now I don’t know how the heck I can concentrate on anything else but when the returns are coming in tonight. Luckily I am going to a party later with my friends so we can whoop and scream and cry (I’ll be crying either way) and eat cake and drink.
I hope I never lose this excitement no matter how old I get. I hope I am never cynical and blasé and uncaring. I hope today the tide is turned and the last eight years can be washed away in a sea of change and possibility. We need this so much. Oh please
Today I believe, because it’s the only way.