It's very risky writing, posting, tweeting, saying, signing, messaging, discussing, or opining politics in a public domain such as a blog, so I'm going to tread lightly, as though I were walking on a bed of soggy kale. I've seen what happens when people post to Facebook- friends defriended, children disavowed, husbands divorced, dogs dead, and Picassos stolen- all because of a difference of opinions.
I have voted in three presidential elections now, once in Massachusetts, once in abstentia in Massachusetts, and now once in Virginia. My Virginia experience on Tuesday was the greatest and coldest of them all. Virginia is a battleground state and it attracts many voters to the polls. I rushed home from work and headed straight for my polling place- Firestation 10. I've always wondered how you could vote in a school or some other institution without an actual pole- it's just unfitting to be a pollster anyplace removed from an actual pole. But I digress. I waited out in the cold for one hour. Cars honked, enthusiasts encouraged, the cold continued, pollsters gave us our rights, sample ballots were distributed, I listened to music, took pictures of the line length, considered talking to the girl directly in front of me, considered talking to the girl directly behind me, considered talking to the girl two bodies behind me, but thought it rude to the girl directly behind me, read from my book, pondered how all these people could live so close to me and we could still be totally unaware of each other, considered a White House with a Mormon in it, considered another term for Obama, thought about when I first heard of Obama while visiting Chicago in 2004, thought about Democracy, wondered how to appropriately use terms like "Republic" and "Democracy" without infringing on party bias, wondered what it was going to be like once I made it in to the firestation, pondered on what I would say if I ran into a basketball buddy who lives in my neighborhood since our entire relationship is based on only one thing- basketball- which neither of us would be doing if we saw each other, pontificated on the awkwardness of seeing a friend twenty people back that I wanted to talk to, and knew I'd be close to for an hour, and yet not being able to for fear of losing my place in line, thought about dating and marriage, wished I'd been a more informed voter on issues other than the Presidential and Senatorial races, struggled with my political identity, wondered what chances the Independent congressman had against a 21 year incumbent in my district, thought about his mother-in-law who gave me a flyer encouraging me to vote for him, saw his picture and wondered how his biracial marriage was affecting his life, thought about the leaves changing and where they were going once snow hit, and then BAM: I was in the fire station 10, right by the pole.
Once inside there was warmth and maps. Maps of my county and the VA counties directly bordering my own. Even though I live 300 yards from DC, my firetrucks are like the rest of Virginians- they don't cross the bridge! The pollsters wound us around the firetrucks and ambulances, maximizing our indoor space. I think we took the firemen by surprise because there were two sets of boots and fire retardant overalls lying on the floor next to the trucks that all the voters had to step over. I'm still not sure why no one moved them. The ambulance was so close to the garage door that we had to turn sideways to squeeze through (no lie), effectively knocking out any voters over 300 lbs. As we were waiting in line the girl in front of me pulled out her phone and tweeted "Quick, everyone. Who should I vote for?" I was very much tempted to whisper in her little ear my preferred candidate's name, but I decided not to be sketchy when I'd made it so far in normalcy the hour we'd been standing next to each other. I was a tad bit disappointed that she hadn't made up her mind yet.
After I voted I reflected on the experience. A lot of people went into guaranteeing that I got to vote and that my vote mattered and was counted. I am immensely grateful to live in a country where I get to vote. That I get to vote with women. That I get to vote with people who disagree with me. That I get to vote for my leaders. I'm also grateful for fire stations. And ambulances, and fire retardent overalls (I ordered mine on Amazon as soon as I got home). Yep, it was a wonderful afternoon of voting. It was the most joyous hour and twenty minutes I have ever spent waiting outside in line.