The first time I voted was November of 1992. I was 19, in college, and just about beside myself about the whole prospect...making a difference, letting my voice be heard, yada yada yada. I was all smiley and had butterflies...it was the first time in my life I felt like I was truly a part of something larger than myself. And B.C. brought it home, which made it even sweeter.
Four years later, I was far more cavalier about the whole process. Forgot to change my address? No problem...Jetted to Boulder, cast my ballot for Bill with full confidence that he'd take care of bidness yet again (which of course he did), and went on about my day without giving it much more thought.
In 2000 it was a bit different...I went in calmly with confidence in Al, and woke up the next day in a nightmare that will hopefully end today.
So that brings me to this morning, twelve years after my voter cherry was somewhat ceremoniously busted. I spent most of last night sleepless, thinking "I getta vote tomorrow!" I woke up with my stomach in knots, excited and nervous. I was careful about what I wore...I wanted to look nice on election day. (I know...shut up...I was raised by old fashioned people, okay?)
I was pretty impressed by the early turnout at PS 46. It was 7 AM, and I was surrounded by a solid variety of people (or as varied as Fort Greene gets, anyway.) Several young moms were there with their school-age and younger kids, which I found incredibly heartening. I vote because I was taught that it's important, and it was inspiring to see such a tradition perpetuated.
When I walked into that booth, I was suddenly overwhelmed. Maybe some of it was the PMS, or the difficult shit going on in my life at present, or the lack of sleep...but my hands were shaking, and I was close to both vomiting and tears (gawd, I am such a total GIRL sometimes...) That archaic voting machine, older and so much bigger than me, somehow brought the profound geo-political implications of this election into stunning perspective. I felt the burden of responsibility on my scrawny middle-class American shoulders, and a glint of the power that accompanies it. Intense.
All I could do for a minute or so was stare at this Wonka-esque machine...I read some of the names printed on it, until I got to his...Dubya. That's when the the hatred bubbled up in my belly, the anger and frustration that any semi-literate middle-class American SHOULD feel at the fact that we are even PRESENTED with the POSSIBILITY of electing such a monster in the first place. I read the list of names beneath his, the Republicans running for whatever other offices, and I blindly hated them too, whoever they were.
I've never, ever been a partisan voter. In fact, I'm not a member of any party, politcal or otherwise. But as I stared at those parallel lists of names, I kinda snapped. Those people listed below the Un-President were all willing to affiliate themselves with him, and thus they hadda go. I said "Fuck it!" and went down the list of Democrats, snapping levers. "Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it!" All Democrats. Didn't know who half of them even were, I just knew, in principle, that I wanted them to win.
It took me a second to kind of collect myself...supressed my tears and my still-rising gorge...and when I walked out of the booth with my freshly-earned sense of accomplishment, I realized I had been saying "Fuck it!" out loud. Probably loud enough for the both the adorable little Puerto Rican booth attendant and the woman in line behind me to hear. Whoops. But my expletives were borne of passion and conviction, dammit...and besides, they lives in my 'hood. I'm positive they've seen and heard far worse.
Forgive the digression...At any rate, that feeling is still with me. I did something that mattered today, and not just to me or my friends or my mom. It MATTERED. That's big. I'm not about to bust into some Lee Greenwood song here, but goddamn it, if you haven't already, VOTE! Because you CAN!
And because if you can prove to me that you're a registered Republican who voted for Kerry, I'll send you a picture of my boobs. No, really.
Nervous night ahead (yes, I know that was a Hooters album, fuck off). Taking the edge off with a few beers, but only a few...don't wanna be too hung over to celebrate the new era that starts tomorrow.