Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Day

Here's what I remember.

Debating on whether or not to go to Ashtanga class in the morning because if I skipped it, I could be the first in line at the polls and then I could have even more time for volunteering. In the end I went to Ashtanga. (It was a great class.)

Straight to the polls after that, standing in line for just over 45 minutes before it was my turn. They offered me the choice between a paper ballot and the electronic voting machine, and I said "whatever's easiest," which I regret only a little bit because they gave me the paper ballot and I was hoping I would get to see what one of those fancy e-voting machines looked like.

Giving my (slightly unusual) last name to the woman with the voter registration sheets and hearing her comment "wow! there are two people here with that name!" Getting to tell her that, yeah, the other one's my sister and we live two apartment buildings apart.

Feeling a bit of chagrin while staring at the ballot and realizing I know nothing about any of the candidates running for any office other than President and Congress. I vote straight ticket where I can and skip the things like School Board, where I figure I'll let the parents sort that one out.

Taking my "I Voted" sticker into Starbucks to get my free coffee, which I load up with honey and cinnamon. Everyone in the Starbucks voted for Obama and we're all talking about how awesome it was.

Going home, showering etc. and heading out to Obama Headquarters in Arlington. On the way stopping by Ginza, a Japanese boutique in Dupont Circle, to give one of the employees the direct number of a person who would drive her to the polls. (All that phonebanking and the one person I actually, directly, helped push to vote for Obama came from a Saturday conversation in a Japanese boutique while I was looking at Totoro bento.)

Showing up in Arlington and being immediately shipped off to Stafford. Trying to remember all the verses to "Children, Go Where I Send Thee."

Breaking bread, literally, with other volunteers in Stafford, VA because I was the only one who had had the forethought to bring any food with me. (We shared a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich.)

Once again feeling that our GOTV work was as much symbolic as anything else; we knocked on doors all afternoon and everyone we talked to had already voted. (Not to mention that we were GOTVing in a very upscale neighborhood; these people didn't need any rides to the polls. The people who needed the rides were the ones like the young woman at Ginza, hourly workers who need someone to quickly shuttle them over and back before/after work or on a lunch break.)

Coming back, changing into a flirty little dress with the intention of meeting friends at a wine bar to watch the election results. We get there, bar's packed, so we change gears and go to a friend's apartment.

Color-coding a map. With crayons. Knowing it's going to happen and still being a little bit nervous.

Then: OMG VIRGINIA WENT BLUE!!!! (People told me it was partly my doing but really I think I did very little in that respect.)

Hearing "it's official: our next president is Barack Obama" from the man who brought integrity back to journalism, the host of the best f***ing news show on television, Mr. Jon Stewart.

After the immediate celebration, when the outcome was known and only thing left on the television was punditry, getting up to put on my shoes and go home to bed only to hear "wait! you can't leave before his acceptance speech!"

And as we all waited, we began to hear people walking outside of the apartment window, banging on pots and pans and cheering and horns honking and everyone moving as one mass (whose idea was it?) to the White House, and we debated whether to go and watch the speech tomorrow on Hulu like dorks but we waited, all of us antsy and me literally jumping up and down and we watched our new President-Elect Barack Obama from behind that somber reminder of bulletproof glass call out to all of us YES WE CAN and then we were off, in the rain, me wrapped in my friend's coat, giving hugs and high fives to strangers, all the cars stopping to let us pass through, to the White House where there were drums and cheering and singing and a giant cardboard Obama cutout being passed from hand to hand as if he were there crowdsurfing with us ('cause you know he would) -- and then we saw, unbelievably, in the crowd of 4,000, more people we knew, and we all hugged and took photos and jumped up and down and cried and then the lights in the White House went out and we said that the next day for sure Jon Stewart would talk about how President Bush tried to get all those damn kids off his lawn.

The most amazing thing was how peaceful it was. No one got hurt. No one got in any fights. (I checked the crime reports the next day.) We were all excited and many of us were drunk, but it was so joyous. Even when the crowd started singing together that "na na na na, hey hey, goodbye" song, even that was good-spirited. It was the very definition of peaceable assembly.

In bed at 2:30 a.m. Up the next morning at 7, rolling out the yoga mat.

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