I suppose today is historic, though to me today and everything leading up to today has been nothing but surreal.
I felt overwhelmed as soon as I left my car and began picking my way through groups of High School students to the front door of the high school I graduated from all those years ago. It felt weird to be back. It felt weird to be an "adult" among all of these perfect, hopeful teenagers - and it felt weird to see how invisible that made me to them. It felt weird to be walking toward this decision - having only a rough idea of how this was going to go down for me.
I took comfort in the anonymity of the crowd. I could stand in a line and think.
It both helped and made things infinitely worse to have Hamilton running through my head on repeat. Jefferson or Burr? Here comes the general! Rise up! I AM NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT!
But as the fuzzy edges of my surroundings grew sharper and the line moved forward, I realized that I was being an idiot. There was no anonymity in this crowd. These were my neighbors. My community. I was STANDING IN LINE NEXT TO my neighbor, and another neighbor jumped in line right behind me. Ahead, I could see another cluster of my people - my old YW advisor, my kid's primary teacher, etc. etc. We all started chatting - the nervous chatter of people who felt a bit startled by the familiarity and the complete unpredictability of what we were doing.
I start thinking about George Washington. That guy was something else. And I'm thinking - was he one of a kind? An impossible standard? Or are we just not looking hard enough?
Then SHE came and stood in line with us. I don't want to use names because this whole experience to me felt abrasively personal - and I don't feel I have the right.
But SHE is 18. Absolutely stunning. I love both of her parents (her whole family!) so much - and I've watched her on Sundays -- how she is with the Young Women. This girl is gold. And here she was, her very first election. This political situation is what she's had to wade through for her very first election.
I have never been a very political person. I care - but I don't rant or rally or attempt to reason. I vote my conscience and that's that. I never tell anyone who I vote for. I don't even tell my cute husband who I vote for. But considering HER and how she was following me into the fray as she mused about the ticker tape and the electronic ballot boxes...I was swept away again by such a strong tide of emotion.
This keeps happening this election.
I was swept into a feeling of complete desperation. I wanted to protect her - protect all of these high schoolers who surrounded our somber line in the hall of their school. We were on their turf, making decisions that affected them, and here she was...girl of gold I was desperate to prevent from tarnishing.
It's a mess, I wanted to say. It's a mess and I'm sorry! It's not supposed to be like this - candidates for presidency are supposed to stand for something. They're supposed to be unselfish and serving. Sacrificing and sincere. Human and flawed, yes, but better than this.
They're supposed to love this nation - in its own kind of young-adulthood - and want so desperately so many things for it. Not just things for themselves. There is supposed to be hope.
Today doesn't feel hopeful so much as it feels like we're all roping ourselves down, hoping the storm passes without causing too much permanent damage.
I know not everyone feels this way - for some today is thrilling and feels like the culmination of important work. For some today contains the hope of something bright.
I look at my awesome kids, and I think...we are on their turf. And I am woefully unable to keep the gold from tarnishing.