Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Even Busted Ballot Can't Burst My Bubble

As I made my way with Mrs. Optimist and our soon-to-be-born baby in tow to the polling place on Monitor and Driggs, I readied myself to pull the lever of history. After two years of waiting, hoping, praying, and screaming for change, the time had come at last.

The line at 7 a.m. this morning in Greenpoint was shorter than we had anticipated, but still sizable enough to augur the massive turnout that is certain to sweep the country today. On line before me stood 30 of my fellow Brooklynites, and by the time we reach the booth another 50 or so huddled behind us anxious to vote.

It took all the self-control I could muster not to cry out "OBAMA!" and give everyone on line a big hug.

I beamed.

And then I wilted.

Just for a second, of course. Nothing can deprive me of the great hope and excitement and pride I feel today to be an American - save for a staggering surprise this evening (knock on every piece of wood in existence). But, I was denied a tiny bit of the catharsis that has been two years in the making.

As I took the final breezy steps to the front of the line, I realized that the voting machine for the 50th AD, 93rd ED (and from what I could tell, also the 92nd ED) was busted.


A paper ballot!?! What? No level to pull, no curtain to close, no soothing mechanical tick?

You mean I have to fill in ovals!?! For a moment, the euphoria of voting was drowned out by a phantasmagoria of a long ago lifetime of standardized test-taking. I felt drawn by an evil force to vote for McCain, just because choice "A" was never the right answer of the SATs.

Who the hell is "C"? Ralph Nader?

Can't think... Can't breathe...

I channeled all my strength and stared into the ballot. Instinctively, my eyes fell upon the Obama/Biden block and my vision again came into focus. In this rare moment of complete clarity, I remembered why I had come.

I had come to change a nation that has lost its way. I had to come to restore respect to America in the eyes of the world. I had come so that the uninsured, like me, could one day have health care. I had come to save our economy, to preserve our environment, to inspire innovation, to fight for peace, to restore the principles our Founding Fathers enshrined in the Constitution.

And, above all, I had come for my unborn daughter. I had come to vote for Barack Obama, so that she would be born into a country of possibility and optimism - a country many of us have never known, and the rest of us had nearly forgotten.

Before I knew it, the ovals had filled themselves and I had bounded back into the light beside my beloved.

This has already been a great day and as each hour passes it's only going to get better.

For the first time in eight years, I can't wait for tomorrow.

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