I’m supposed to feel dread right now. And as the day turns to dusk, it’s creeping in, a return to Standard Time means darkness comes early and the optimism of the morning fades.
But at 5:09pm, before the polls close and the real frenetic politic fever dream begins, I’ll tell you a secret.
My cynicism? It’s founded on a boundless optimism. But, just between us gals. Don’t tell anyone.
I don’t want to reflect on four years ago. I don’t want to remember that exact moment or feel that exact feeling of grief for myself and my siblings as they left my house in tears.
I don’t want to relive my mental health break the next day-definitely, not that.
I slept 8 hours. I got up and Apple Music came through with a playlist of “upbeat country” just for me. I don’t care who you are, Nelly rapping about red clay and ‘roc on rocks with Florida-Georgia Line is just fun, good, shit.
I drove past my polling place, the elementary school down the road. I’ve never waited in any kind of line, shit, I’ve rarely seen more than five other voters there at the same time as me. This place looked like the last day of school carpool lane. I just kept it moving to the Starbucks and the voice of a former co-worker greeted me in the talk-box. I pulled up and was given my order and two pup cups, for the pibbles I usually bring with, but left at home today. It made me smile.
My girlfriend and partner of almost 3 years has never voted. The victim of the lies and intentional untruths the (in)justice system tells so many to illegally disenfranchise them, he never questioned what his government had told him to be true: that he had lost parts of his 1st, 2nd, 15th, and 26th amendment rights. Based on a low-level, non-violent, no-time-served crime. So, he just never registered.
But, me being me, I nuged and nagged until he did. “If you aren’t allowed, please believe, they will let you know.” And in fact, the let him know with a brand-new voter registration card in the mail a few months ago.
I asked if he wanted to vote early, and he took time to consider. Eventually, he decided that he wanted to have the Election Day experience he’d been denied for more than 20 years.
I am not patriotic. In many ways I loathe this country. But Election Day has always pulled my heartstrings and made me feel like I am doing something, however symbolic, to try and make something right.
Watching him smile, knowing he had the chance for civic participation, well, it made me smile, too.
I had the foresight (thanks, past me!) to schedule my therapy appointment for today. I had a conference about technology with one person about something super minor but will make my teaching a little easier, I learned some new songs on the autoharp. I wrote these words and a few more, too.
I’m going to hold tight to this optimism for a few more hours. Every second it is here next to me is so fucking precious right now. A gift. A miracle, really, for someone who is me.
For right now…for right now.
Hold tight, too. Let tomorrow be whatever it’s going to be. Optimism is revolutionary, too.