I’ve finally gotten a few hours of sleep, and while I am still bleary-eyed, trying to make sense of all this, I have a few thoughts.
You’ll find, if you stick around, that I always have a few thoughts.
The first thing I do after an election is think about my grandfather. He left this earth fifteen years ago, but I do not go through an election cycle without reflecting about what he would have thought or what he would have said about the outcome. My grandfather left us when I was seventeen, and so one of my greatest regrets is that we didn’t get to have the adult relationship I have with the rest of my grandparents.
But then, my grandpa always treated me like an adult. He always gave me space at the table to tell him what I thought, and he always listened to me. My grandparents always thought politics were important, and so even as a child, we sat around after dinner and we talked about what we thought was right and wrong, and that was the first place I felt it was safe to form my opinions.
So I took a walk yesterday and looked at the blue sky, and I asked him what he thought. I asked him, could he truly believe this is where we were?
I willed him to somehow communicate to me what was next.
And I felt a brief wash of calm, just for a moment.
I was taught that the way to fight for what you believe is with your words and your actions.
To say I am devastated about the outcome of Tuesday night would be an understatement.
I think my grandfather would have been devastated too.
But I think he would have told me to keep moving, that the most important thing we could do would be to pause to reflect and then jump up and take action. I think we can tell each other that those of us who choose love over hate and those of us who know how important it is to take care of each other are still all exactly where we were Tuesday morning.
We’re right here, chickens.
Tuesday, I worked the polls for 17 hours. I showed up before five that morning. I was supposed to be joined by four other judges, but instead just one Republican judge named Nathan showed up. Nathan and I had never worked the polls before, and there was a rush of humanity when they opened at 6 am.
We weren’t ready for it. We had no idea what to do, and before long, there was a line of voters in the auditorium and I started sweating.
We adjusted quickly, stretching to do four jobs between two people, making the process fluid and easy and taking care of each other. Nathan was polite to every single voter, he was helpful even when it was obvious that the vast majority of the voters in our precinct were outspokenly voting against the Republicans. He thanked every citizen who came through the door for voting and I could tell he meant it.
He didn’t flinch when I dropped the f bomb several times an hour, even though I gathered he was not the type to swear. He didn’t roll his eyes when I lectured my neighbors about how not requiring ID was a positive thing. He promised an upset 87-year-old man that he would make sure his vote counted.
He laughed at almost all of my jokes, and at the end of the night, exhausted, we found out that our ward boasted the highest turnout in the city, something that made us both visibly excited.
Election judges are supposed to wear badges with their political parties on them, but because we were slammed in the morning, we never got around to finding them or putting them on.
We served as plain old Americans instead. We were a great team. I’d want Nathan on my team again if I could choose.
Chicks, I have to believe that there are more Nathans out there to add to all of us who already believe in a civil, peaceful, loving America.
What’s next is to decide how we move forward. Can we reach deep down where it’s dark and scary and figure out a way to go on in love? It won’t be easy. Getting angry comes easier, and honestly, it’s a fair reaction. But let’s use that anger to stoke the fire of change, everyone. Let’s be the people we want our children to look up to. Let’s make this country a safer, better place to hand off to them someday.
And let’s know that the midterms are two years away. Let’s not waste any time crying when we could be volunteering or speaking or writing or donating.
Namaste, chickadees. There will be sunshine again, I promise.