Posted a rant yesterday, about the little journey between the hills of hope and fear that many of us have been going through, even as all polls seem to suggest a clear cut Obama victory today. I didn’t mention one particular fear, though, because I’m not sure it had crystallized fully at the time I wrote that mess up. It’s a little darker than the thoughts I did mention, and even now I hesitate to mention it, because, in the light of day, it seems ridiculous.
But for a tiny bit there, yesterday, I wondered whether I might die in the night, before I had a chance to vote for Barack Obama for president.
And even as I type that, I feel….well….stupid. But….I had a fleeting version of the same thought when I flew on an airplane twice last week.
I guess I could mave made the worry moot by participating in early voting, but stuff kept coming up, and eventually I convinced myself that I wanted to go to the polls on ELECTION DAY! and join the crowds patiently waiting for their chance to (insert your local voting method here).
But I woke up yesterday with a lump on my wrist, right where two visible veins join up, straight down from the ring finger, an inch below where hand joins arm. And I wondered if it was a vascular issue, and I wondered if I might have a blood clot, and I thought about Terrence Tolbert, Obama’s Nevada state director, who passed away from a heart attack yesterday at age 44, and I thought about Mike Baker, the lead singer of Shadow Gallery, a band you’ve probably never heard of, but whose music I greatly enjoyed, who passed away last week from a heart attack at age 45.
Now I’m a bit younger than both those men, but I saw that lump, sprung up overnight, in the vicinity of those blood vessels, and I thought also of a friend, younger than myself, who spent 6 months of 2007 on blood thinners due to the discovery of a blood clot, and I was concerned. I’m usually the type to resist going to the doctor until I’ve already been sick three days, and my fiancee has nagged me to the point of her wanting to club me over the head and drag me to the doctor’s office herself. And yet, this time, I was the one worrying, and calling the doctor on my own.
And yes, an idle, throwaway, far-fetched thought about “what happens if it is a blood clot, and it breaks loose, and I have a heart attack and don’t get to vote for Obama?” did play a part in my calling the doctor’s office for an appointment.
I woke up this morning, in a different state of mind. The lump was still there, but to heck with it, I was too busy getting ready to head to the polls!
I put on shorts and a light sweatshirt, grabbed my mp3 player, and walked over to my polling place, arriving 20 minutes before the polls opened, all of which might seem pretty unremarkable except for the fact that I live in Madison, WISCONSIN, and in any given November, the shorts may already have been packed away, and the walking of the 10-15 minutes to my voting place might be complicated by a layer of ice and snow. Gotta love those 70 degree days in November, because they’re rare and precious. Casting aside any ruminations about global warming, I chose to believe that it was just a reflection of a bright new day in American politics, and, really, in the country as a whole.
Once the polls opened, it took me 30 minutes to get through the line, and by the time I emerged into the sunshine again, the line had grown to 3 or 4 times the size it was when I’d arrived. Anne Althouse, the Wisconsin law prof and blogger votes at the same location, and reported a 43 minute wait nearly a couple hours later. So I guess I saved myself 15 minutes by getting up nearly two hours earlier than I usually would.
But getting up early was worth it. For one thing, it meant less time for me to die in my sleep, which, as ludicrous as it seems in the light of day, was a thought that crossed my mind multiple times before I finally turned out the lights on Election Eve. For another, it was well worth waiting for election day proper, and standing in a line with neighbors I’d never met, and just chatting to fill the time before the line got going, and chatting while waiting, ever realizing that I’d quite possibly never meet these people again.
And, most importantly, after last night, and after the past two years, it felt oh so very good to join together the head and tail of the arrow next to Barack Obama’s name with two bold swipes of the special magic marker designated for voting use only, and feeding that piece of cardboard into the ballot slurper (well, that’s what I call it, anyway), and seeing the little counter increment to the number “89”.
I don’t know if you remember the band known as The Eels, but on one of their albums, they had a hidden track entitled, “Mr E’s Beautiful Blues” and it was the chorus of that song that was running through my head as I walked home through the glorious Madison sunshine….
Goddamn right, it’s a beautiful day….uh huh!