Today was a HUGE day for the United States on so many levels. Today, President Obama was reelected for a second term. Colorado and Washington were the first states ever to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Also, Maine and Maryland voted to allow and recognize gay marriage. Whether or not you agree with them or support them, you have to admit that they are HUGE.
Election Days are important to me.
Today, I waited almost 2 hours in line at my precinct. When it was my turn to head into the booth, one of the men helping explain the touch screens told me that I am awfully young, and he was surprised to see me there. His statement caught me a bit off-guard. I'm not sure he meant to sound this way, but it made me feel as if he questioned whether I really should be there.
First off, I'm getting far too close to 30 for comfort. I might look young, but I am old enough to be able to vote. It's not my fault that women in my family tend to look 10-20 years younger than they really are.
Second, it bothered me that it sounded as if he believed I should want be home (or anywhere else) doing other things, instead of waiting in line to voice my political opinion.
I told this man that countless men and women not only fought, but DIED, so that I could stand in that booth to make sure that my voice is heard in Washington. I feel like I owe it to them to be there. I want to make sure that their efforts were not wasted.
I told him that the 2 hours I spent in line, I spoke to the people around me. We didn't discuss the candidates, but we DID discuss the reasons we were there. The woman behind me was elderly. She could have been my grandmother. Her mother was part of the women's suffrage movement. Her mother made a stand in an attempt to change the country so that her daughter would be able to vote. The man in front of me was originally from India. He came over here as a small boy. He believes that as a US citizen, it is his duty to participate, and he felt privileged to be able to do it.
The man didn't say anything further.
But can you imagine being in the shoes of that man who stood in front of me or that woman who stood behind me? Or even that woman's mother? What a humbling moment for me! Hours in line, feet aching, boredom setting in ... It didn't seem to matter anymore. Just thinking about the people on either side of me and their stories really put it into perspective why I was there. It's also something that I'll be remembering from now on, especially every Election Day.
However, I have to admit that I am incredibly relieved that elections are over. I am ready to have non-political posts on my Facebook news feed. I am ready for my friends in opposing parties to stop bickering over important and not-so-important things. I am ready for plain old boring life.
I have to say, though, that the most important thing I've done today and this year is this: