I know I have at least a couple (Hi, Mom! Hi, Sis!) more conservative readers here, so let me say at the start that I had no strong feelings against McCain. He showed his his dignity and grace in concession speech, and I was honored to listen to him. I believe in our system and its multiple viewpoints.
However, my life, my world, my family, my biracial children, my lifelong passion for inclusion, my intense feelings for this particular race made it nearly impossible to post here, and that’s silly. You read my books–I suspect that you probably already figured out what side of the party lines I fell on. I’m not going to suddenly start posting all kinds of political commentary. There are many other places you can find that (or avoid it). But sometimes, maybe on Wednesdays, I’ll want to write about what we can all do to serve, to become involved, no matter what side of the line we’re on, or what country we call home. It’s a small world and we’re all in it together. As with all things, I’ll keep it positive.
That said, and even though it isn’t Wednesday, here is how I spent my election day:
I volunteered to be an election judge, which was a way to keep myself from freaking out all day long. It was a long, long day. I got up at 4:15, was at Centennial Hall by 5:30, and started driving home at about 8:45 or so. Then I stayed up till past midnight, drinking wine and talking via phone and chatrooms and texts to my kids and friends all over the country. Yesterday, all I could do was stare at the ceiling. Not much got done.
What I will remember: I was on the provisional ballots table, where there were two observers watching like hawks, until they heard me tell every, every single person who came through that they could call the number on their receipt and find out when THEIR OWN BALLOT was counted. Then they backed off.
There were a lot of provisional ballots because there were a ton of first time voters. Lots of young ones, but at least two women in the middle years, and a woman from Asia who was quite worried about exactly how to vote. I’ll remember the trio of African American youths, not a one of them over twenty, coming in with their giant coats and giant shoes and the boys in corn rows, so oddly shy in this official environment, so earnest. They bolstered each other, taking it seriously. I’ll remember the very young woman, very nicely dressed up in cheap clothes, who took a long, long time in the booth and when she came back said, “Is it okay if I didn’t vote on all the amendments and stuff? Because I didn’t understand all of it.” No problem.
I’ll remember the Latino men who came in with their kids so the kids could translate.
I’ll remember that every single person asked me, “Will my vote count?”
I’ll remember seeing all the old soldiers and knowing how much it mattered to them that McCain be president. I’ll remember the army of student judges, in high school, most of them doing it to get out of school and get the $140, but learning so much as we went along.
I’ll remember when the polls were closed, and all the voters were gone, and I texted my older son to say, “Any news?”
And he called me back in two seconds to say, “You haven’t heard? Obama took Pennsylvania and Ohio and New Mexico. He’s going to win.” He said when he heard that, he went to his office and closed the door and burst into tears. I said, “Wait! I can’t cry yet, so I’ll talk to you after while. He had called his dad and his brother already. We were celebrating as a family, even though we were all in different cities.
I finally got out of the polling place at 8:30 and turned to NPR and they were calling Virginia, which I knew had been a swing state, and I knew he’d won, and that’s when I finally could cry. And all this huge emotion came pouring out, and I cried all the way home, and laughed, and then laughed and cried for about three more hours, as my friends called, and my kids. CR and I watched the acceptance speech and it was so thrilling–just looking at that crowd, white and black and brown, young and old, rich and poor.
My younger son called me from work, and he was happy and then he just broke down and sobbed. He said when Obama first started to run, “If he becomes president, I will know America has really changed.” On the phone he said, “it really happened,” and then he couldn’t speak through his tears.
My ex-husband and I talked yesterday morning and congratulated ourselves on raising such passionately involved children, but also on creating this multiracial family that contributed to an America that could vote a biracial man named Obama into office.
Somewhere we lost our idealism as a nation, and I’m so encouraged to see the passion returning. We must all remember that this is not the end of our service, but just the beginning. We can take a few weeks to recover, but then we all need to ask ourselves, what can I do now?
What was your election day like? Please share your election day experience in the comments. (And yes, you can share no matter where you are, whether you could vote or not, or which party you supported. If you had an experience you want to share, please do.)