My alarm went off at 6AM this morning. The apartment was warming up already, possibly trying to make up for 3 weeks of no heat because I drained something that needed re-filling, but I was tired. I crawled back into bed, sweating, but got up at 6:13. There was no way I could sleep in this morning. I had to vote. I’d purposely set my alarm early this morning in order to vote, and there was no way I was going to be able to wait all day to do it.
I barely ate. I made a pumpkin mug cake and took my morning supplements. I fed the cat, got dressed, and headed off to the local elementary school. On the way there, I was suddenly overcome with emotion. I was excited, I was hopeful, and I was also terrified. I imagined watching the poll results come in on the TV tonight (something I remember doing in high school, but realistically, I’ll probably use the internet) and crying, no matter the outcome. I guess I’ve been a bit sensitive lately. My boyfriend’s schedule has changed, so if it’s determined tonight, at least he will be there with me.
The line curved around the block. Apparently, there were separate lines for different precincts. I’d had no idea I was supposed to know which was mine. Another person in line pulled out their smartphone to figure out theirs, so I took a peek: precinct 4. (Un)fortunately, I was in the right line, which was also the longest. I didn’t have my smartphone on me so I just people-watched as I waited and shuffled. It was cold, but I wrapped my scarf around my head and kept my hands in my fleece-lined pockets. I thought about maybe picking up a new winter coat at TJ Maxx, something that will cut the wind on the scooter. A little boy approached the school with his mother and sister, and loudly exclaimed, “You’re voting!” A chuckle rose from the line and I stayed smiling for a little while.
Once inside, I wished I’d brought cash with me. I rarely carry it, but there was a bake sale in the entrance and a cup of coffee would’ve been nice. I don’t drink it often, and I don’t rely on caffeine, but I wanted to support the school. The warmth would have been welcome. As I got up to the registration table, I smiled, gave them my address and name, and thanked the volunteers. I found an empty station, filled in the bubbles on my ballot with the provided felt-tip pen, and walked to the back of the auditorium, where I’d spotted another table and a ballot machine. They confirmed my address and name again, I handed over the ballot, and watched it go in. If I ever volunteer on election day, I’ll suggest that someone stand in the lobby to tell people what to do in terms of receiving then turning in their ballots, because it wasn’t clear to me at all. Not everybody is a veteran voter!
This is a large country, but today, I really felt a part of it. I think it’s okay for identities to change and fluctuate on a day to day basis. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m an American today. I went through a brief period in college when I was convinced that I was some kind of anarchist, and not patriotic in the least. Time passed, I met more people, and I grew up a little. I’m proud of my heritage and I believe in the country that my grandparents moved to. This is a land of promise and opportunity. I feel extremely blessed that I have been able to experience it in the ways that I have. I was hospitalized, and my parents were able to pay the bills. I went to college, my parents paid for a large portion of my tuition, and now I’m employed and steadily paying off my loans. I know not everyone my age is in the same situation as I am, even people older than me who are struggling with loans. I really hope that, if not from this election, my vote will count towards changes to help other people have experiences more like mine.