Speaking from our soft places (Radical Torah repost)
This week's portion: first step

Casting my vote

The cat woke me just before dawn, leaping into bed and settling in to knead my chest like bread dough. Slant-eyed and contented, purring like a tiny lawnmower. I try to make my first thought of the day modah ani lefanecha -- "I am grateful before You" -- but today the first thing that raced through my waking mind was "it's election day!" A buzz of excitement. Like a long-awaited birthday.

Ethan and I drove down to Lanesboro town hall in tandem. We arrived at 7:03 and already the small parking lot was full of cars; I had to wait for someone to back out so I could pull in. The internet has been full of suggestions about how to manage long lines at one's polling place, which we knew wasn't going to be an issue here. We live in a small town, we've never had to stand in line to vote before. But there were four people waiting to check in before we could give our names to the poll workers; an honest-to-God line in Lanesboro, will wonders never cease?

The flow in Lanesboro goes like this: walk into the basement room at Town Hall. Walk to the far end of the room. Tell your name to the polling worker there, and have her check you off the roster of voters. Take a ballot and go into the little curtained booth, like a wee sukkah built just for one. Vote. Exit the booth and walk to the other end of the room. Tell your name to the polling worker there, and have him check you off the roster of voters again. And then actually turn in the ballot.

I stepped into the little booth and took up the special black marker and the scan-tron form. When I filled in the first oval -- the one for President -- tears welled up in my eyes and my throat felt suspiciously tight. Who knew hope could be so fierce, so almost-painful?

Voting itself took about two minutes. We'd already researched the various candidates, and the three propositions on the ballot here in Massachusetts. (I don't know how y'all in California handle it.) After helping the second polling worker find my name on the list, I walked over to the big blocky Diebold machine. Inserted my ballot into the slot. A whir and a clunk and the little screen read "33" -- I was the thirty-third person to vote in my town this morning. Ethan was number 35.

As we exited into the foggy parking lot, people were beginning to park on the grass. We hugged quickly and then hit the road, wanting to free up our parking spots for the cars which were already hovering in the margins, waiting to pull in.

Today feels like it should be chag -- like I should go daven with my community now, and then maybe sit home reciting tehillim all day with fervent intention. Instead I'll go to Qur'an class, and then Codes class, and then do some research toward my Biblical History presentation on Friday. And during all of those, all over this nation, people will be doing the same incredibly holy thing that I just did. God: please, please, please may the outcome of this election be a blessing.

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