Tuesday, November 8, 2016

At least I didn't ugly cry when I voted

I don't know who is going to win this election. In my heart and my head, I believe/know that Hillary Rodham Clinton will win. There's always a little hesitation when I say it out loud because this has been a challenging election to say the least and I feel like I might jinx something. This is also the reason I don't always watch Saints football games because my mere presence might somehow make a difference. It's silly and mildly paranoid but there's nothing I can do about that.

I wasn't sure how I would feel when I voted today. I didn't know how I would react to the opportunity to cast my vote for the first major party female candidate and (probably) the next President of the United States. Would I cry? Would I jump for joy? Would I show my ballot to the other voters so they could see the awesomeness? I couldn't predict how I would feel. I've been preparing for this a long time; ever since I first learned about the voting process in school. I've been a fan of voting since elementary school when we got to mock vote in elections; I was a civics geek then and I'm a civics geek now. I worked on my first campaign in high school for Senator Mark Warner. I cast my first vote in the 2000 election for Al Gore. I canvassed and campaigned for the Landrieus (Mitch and Mary), John Kerry, Barack Obama, and scores of local and state representatives. I have gotten out the vote for years and will get out the vote for years to come.

And I love Hillary Rodham Clinton. I do. I've been a fan of hers since way back when she became First Lady. I read her Wellesley commencement speech back then and was captivated by her idealism and her beliefs. She was a strong female voice when my youthful feminism needed direction. She led me to other heroes like Gloria and to start taking notice of female politicians (there weren't a lot in the 1990s). I knew, even back then, that HRC put up with (and continues to put up with) a bunch of crap as First Lady, the least of which came from her husband. I personally believe she's always been too much for people to handle; she didn't sit quietly by even when she was defending her choice to stay with her husband. During her recent opening monologue, Samantha Bee summed up all of my feelings pretty perfectly. You can watch it here.

So how would I actually feel today? It's hard to sum up my feelings in a way that doesn't make me sound like a blubbering crazy person who watches Hallmark movies for fun and talks to her cat (oh wait). I got up this morning feeling better than I've felt since Friday (I'm getting over a cold), I made some tea, had a little breakfast, and started getting ready for my day. I put on my Hillary '16 shirt, my "love trumps hate" button, and my comfy shoes. I walked to my precinct, checked in with my precinct captain (my shift wasn't starting for another hour), and got in line to vote. The line was decent; not long but not short either. Hats off to the election workers who keep the Drew School polling place moving; y'all are the true heroes of the election. I waited about 25 minutes to get my ballot. And then I got to fill it in. There was her name, right at the top, waiting for me to place my mark in the box. I stared at it for a full minute. My heart tightened. I got a little teary. And then I filled in the box. I finished my ballot with hands shaking, shaking from being excited about this moment and angry that it took so long and that this election was so ridiculous. Shaking for all the women who came before me and made it so I could be here today and vote for this woman to lead our country. Shaking for all the women who will come after, who I hope will continue to fight for what is right and important. Then, still shaking a bit, I actually cast my ballot. I put my ballot on the machine and it took it and registered it and the wonderful election worker gave me my "I Voted in Arlington" sticker. And it was done. I voted for Hillary Clinton. I voted for a woman for President.

On a normal Election Day, I would be done at this point. I'd go home or back to work and go through the rest of my day until it was time to go home and watch the returns. However, today was not a normal Election Day. I didn't go home but instead went right back outside, grabbed some sample ballots and worked my shift as a poll place greeter for the Arlington Democrats. I spent several hours with other dedicated volunteers, met voters in my community, and even saw a few of my neighbors (I think they were surprised to see me). I answered questions about ID requirements and connected voters to the outside poll person to report problems or concerns about the process. I saw women in white and pantsuits and families coming to vote so their children could understand what this process is about. I met my State Senator (I'm even on his Twitter feed today) and watched him meet and greet voters (fascinating on so many levels). I finished my shift, told my precinct captain to consider me on call if someone didn't show up, and walked back home. I spent the afternoon enjoying everyone's posts on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. And now I'm watching the returns and waiting.

We won't have a President when I publish this post. It's possible that we won't know the results of this election for several days if certain states are close as some experts believe they will be. I'm not okay with that but I will be okay with it anyway. I'll be okay with it because today, when I cast my vote, it was a moment that I won't ever forget. It was a moment that said for an entire generation of women that we don't have to be pretty, funny, or smart. We can be all of them or none of them. We can be whatever we want. And our sons and daughters can be whatever they want.

Except maybe dinosaurs. They can dress like dinosaurs but I don't think they can actually be dinosaurs.

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