Chapter 11: The Big Vote

Samuel had come home with me on a rainy afternoon in June. Thus began the most joyful summer of my life. It was filled with carousel rides, walks in the woods, playing at the spray ground to beat the summer heat and generally having the most fun we could have with each day. I ate more ice cream than any adult should, yet I felt barely a pang of guilt. I felt as if my life were complete, and many days brought pure joy.

I never dreamed that having a child in my life would be so transformative, yet it was. I saw my life only in forward motion, as if I were driving along without a rear view mirror to look into. Chandler, and all that was in my “prior” life, was not accessible to my daily thoughts. The carefree, joyous feelings I had as a single parent of a delightful boy continued to drive me happily through each day.

However, it didn’t last.

As the days turned shorter and the weather cooler, I began to get caught up in the national drama as the Presidential campaigning process unfolded. Usually one to avoid the fray of politics and religion, I got sucked into the debate. Several of my friends seemed my political polar opposite, and I found it difficult to see them through the same lens after a few heated discussions. The national conversation was also taking the same vitriolic turn. People who used to get along with each other were suddenly warring factions. I was afraid.

In prior elections, I remember feeling hope as I made my decisions about who to vote for. Hope for positive change, hope that trajectories that brought me pride in our country would not sharply jag in other directions. This time around, though, the world was different. Internationally things were in turmoil, with conflict escalating in the Middle East, sabre-rattling from Russia, the widening chasm between the rich and the poor, gun violence at home, and terrorism running amok in Europe and beyond. Couple that with the sensational things being slung between our Presidential contenders, and my feelings of fear were quite warranted.

The debates brought me no relief from these fears. The one-liners and pessimistic undertones had me retreating to my Twitter feed, looking for solace in the comic commentary of like-minded friends. This was not supposed to be entertainment, and it was sad that most of who I knew were tuning in as if it were a sporting event of national interest, not a battle of wits and intellect that would determine the leader of our country for the next four years.

So it was that I found myself heading to my local polling place on the morning of Election Day. I got there early, and in my mind’s eye, I saw two queues forming. Bad Hombres to the right, Nasty Women to the left. Which line would I go into? If you came between my son and me, or did anything to upset my status quo, I’d be one bad hombre in short order. That said, I was also quite a nasty woman, by the re-definition of that term during the debates.

I marched right through the middle of the doorways of the polling place. I cast my vote. I went home, crying most of the way, knowing that either way we were in trouble. I decided I wouldn’t go to work that day. I stopped by Samuel’s school on the way home and retrieved my son. I made up some excuse about a doctor’s appointment. I hugged Samuel tightly, probably a little too long. As I stood back and looked at his questioning face, I told him, “We’re going to have a day off, just you and me. And we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Our first stop? Ice cream for two.

This story is part of a series of stories I’m writing as part of a commitment to sketch each day of 2016. My #365daydraw project yields an image each month, by popular choice, to serve as inspiration for each chapter.
Read more about my #365daydraw challenge