The Heart Of It All

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dear everywhere else: Next time you refer to the Midwest as "flyover states," Ohio & I will thank you to remember this evening.

I did not, of course, vote in Ohio today. I voted in New Jersey, & my boyfriend, who is a Virginian, voted in New Hampshire. Tonight, we were thrilled to see all four of our beloved states go blue. In fact, for the first time since moving to the Garden State, I found myself speaking the phrase "Jersey Strong" & really meaning it. Maybe tonight was what I needed to start feeling like a New Jerseyan – or maybe it was all I needed to remind me that I will always be an Ohioan. But whatever I am, I am an American, & I could not be more proud to have cast my vote for President Barack Obama.

My voting today experience was weird & unconventional. Not only did I not wait in line, I was, at one point, literally the only voter in the building. The seven polling staffers seemed confused & unprepared; one of them literally yelled at me when my cardigan briefly pulled open to reveal my Obama tee underneath. (I didn't realize it was illegal!) I cast my vote on a poster-sized touch-screen in one of only two voting booths in my polling place, & I listened to an old man answer the question "Where do you live?" with "I live where I live!" I was not given an "I voted" sticker, as is customary in my Buckeye State, & was instead told, "We'll have those next year," which is not a helpful answer. But I voted, & I didn't have to wait to vote, & I got to vote at the Jersey Shore, where so, so many of my neighbors are still reeling from the storm that ravaged this area just a week ago. I am lucky, & I don't need a sticker to remind me of that.

I hardly realized I was holding my breath tonight when I watched the results roll in, but every time a progressive candidate's win was announced, I found myself breathing a bit easier. Claire McCaskill! Elizabeth Warren! Kirsten Gilibrand! Tammy Duckworth! Lois Frankel! Maggie Hassan! That's what we ladies like to call "shutting the whole thing down," y'all. And Ohio showed its love for the divine Sherrod Brown, & all of the terrible rape apologists went down in flames, & the Kennedys made their grand comeback & marriage equality made major strides, & when Ohio went blue, immediately followed by the announcement of Barack Obama's win, I found myself laughing & crying at the same time, sniffling & snorting & smiling all at once. We did this. We did it!

For the first time, I didn't feel like I needed to respond to any of the haters on Facebook. All I felt was relief & joy, a wavering faith restored, the return of a deep-seated hope that never really left but sure did worry there for a minute. "We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope." HAPPY FOUR-MORE-YEARS-DAY, America!

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