FEAR NOT! There are no political statements! No candidate endorsements!
I just wanted to share my experience with with the bright-eyed boy who united our line.
November nights in Cary are a little cold right now, so the line was very quiet. People either talked quietly with the people they came with, or pulled out cell phones and tried (sometimes in vain) to mash the little buttons while still wearing gloves. It felt like a spy movie. You know the other side is here, you just don’t know who they are. Any political talk between friends was hushed and intentionally vague, and was usually accompanied by furtive glances at the other voters. “Did they hear me? Are they one of ‘ours’ or ‘theirs’?” Stealing glances at the others to check for any clues on their affiliation.
I found myself itching to be in the building, casting my vote, and leaving. And not just because I hate cold. But then a little face peeked out from behind the woman in front of us. A face with brightly shining eyes, a mop of curly black hair, and dimples almost as big as his grin. I couldn’t help but grin back. Then he started running. Back and forth across the line, from one white, plastic chain to the opposite. He was intentionally careful, pulling himself back a little before grabbing the chains so he wouldn’t knock them down. Grinning at me the whole time.
When his mother looked back, I said, “Well, that’s one way to keep warm!” His mom smiled and agreed. “You’re welcome to join him if you want!” she laughed. The boy and I locked eyes, and started racing for the other side. Not caring if the looks we got were amused or disapproving, we did laps, laughing together.
“Uh-oh!” his mom said, “I think she beat you that time!” When we stopped, the line around us was smiling and laughing, the tension gone. His mom and my boyfriend and I started chatting about the perks of being 5, and how he was disappointed when they reached the polls and he learned the candidates wouldn’t be there. As we talked, he kept moving. Jumping in place, running in circles around his mom, hugging the bushes.
“You know, I have ADD,” said a middle aged man further ahead in line, “and I remember this one teacher I had in third grade. Whenever I’d get antsy like him, she’d point at the door, and I knew I had to run back and forth from the door to the fence until I was too exhausted to be antsy. I wish they could still do that. No drugs, no Ritalin, nothing.”
“Not sure the little guy’s ADD,” I whispered to my boyfriend, “There’s a very fine line between being ADD, and being 5.”
The man went on to talk about how he hopes that this election will do something for the schools, and for kids like our little friend. People in line nodded, listening to him. “I’m glad you’re here,” he said, turning his attention to us. “I don’t care who you’re voting for or why, but it’s good to see the youth caring.” He turned back to the mother and commended her for bringing her son, and showing him the importance of voting.
As the little boy waved goodbye to me, I found myself reexamining what was important about voting. I’d been a bit jaded coming in, knowing that my one, tiny vote doesn’t have the impact that the campaigns say it does. But now, I realized how I could feel good about it.
No matter what candidate we were choosing, which party, which senators, we were united on a greater scale. We were there to build our utopia for this little boy, and all other like him. Take away the ego of “beating the other party” and the sometimes selfish reasons for why we picked a person, and step back. We’re all here to build tomorrow.
I wish we could all agree on what Utopia is, but half the beauty of being an individual is our differences. Our motives may vary, but never forget that our ultimate desires are so very the same.