Today, I cast my first-ever physical polling place vote.
I’ve been eligible to vote by mail every single election since I reached voting age. This means I’ve voted by mail my entire voting career.
This year, in a general state of frazzlement, I set my vote-by-mail ballot some special, secret place I’d for-sure never forget.
Translated, this means it was inevitable I’d forget it.
I ended up voting, for the first time ever, at a physical polling place.
One long-haired, middle-aged man explained to me how California’s new electronic voting system works. He asked if I had any questions, to which I replied I didn’t.
I cast my votes. Afterward, I validated my votes on-screen. I then validated my votes on-paper. Having confirmed them as accurate on-screen and on paper, I submitted them.
Then, a half-dozen volunteers asked me about … my earrings. And I almost started crying. I’d cast my presidential vote for a candidate whose hashtag is #NotMeUs, only to suddenly discover #NotMeUs looks, in real life, like curiosity about old-fangled earrings in new-fangled voting booths.
I was so glad I’d lost track of my physical ballot, forcing me to face my first-ever #NotMeUs voting experience live.
For all I’d liked the idea of #NotMeUs, today represented me living the idea.
I loved it.
So: Today, I’m thinking how 2016-me wanted to burn it all down. Then-me reflected angrily how the Democratic establishment couldn’t have cared less what I–or those who’d inspired me to reconsider my lifelong voting patterns!–wanted. They were concerned only that they’d achieve the goals their paid contributors set for them.
Today I’m thinking how glad I am that I lost my physical vote-by-mail ballot, so I could go talk earrings and voting systems with election volunteers–who represented a wide range of possible physical variations!–I’d never before met.
I’m thankful I got a chance to translate an abstract #NotMeUs to a concrete one:
It doesn’t matter how any of these volunteers voted.
I wanted the best for each of them.
Every single one of them.
And their children.
And their children’s children.
And their children’s children’s children.
And so I voted today with a smile, but drove away crying.
For decades we’ve been led to believe it’s all about each of us individually …
But today? Today, I believed, down to my bones, that our individual votes don’t matter too, too much. That there’s a chance for a love deeper and broader than that can touch;
a chance to live, today and beyond, something so much more than a hashtag: #NotMeUs.