Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Two Years Of Election Days


I stood in front of a "Vote Here" poster and looked up and down 72nd street.

I had lived on this Upper West Side street for two years. Had walked up and down the block countless times, eaten at the many restaurants lining the street, and shopped at the stores. There was the bodega on the corner where I bought sodas from an elderly man and his wife, the kosher store I stopped at every Thursday afternoon, the record store that we always assumed was a front for something far more sinister than music, and the Duane Reade we frequented for all those things you don't think you need until you do, usually at 3:00 in the morning.

This was my street. Except now it wasn't.

It was 8:30am and the street was teeming with people going to work, kids going to school, and the habitual chaos that is Manhattan on a weekday morning.

I was a part of this morning routing for so long that it became normal. But as I stood in line at my polling place on that first November Tuesday last year, I watched from the sidelines as the morning unfolded. Observing it with the eyes of an outsider.

I shouldn't even have been voting at this polling place. We had moved out of Manhattan to our new suburban home four days before, but we hadn't yet changed our voter registration.

It would never occur to me not to vote, so I stepped up to the table and gave a volunteer an address that was no longer mine. And I wondered if she would see that I didn't fit it. If she would know that five days before I had walked this neighborhood like I owned the place. But on that Tuesday those streets, and that city, didn't belong to me anymore.

I walked to work with a heaviness made up of a toxic cocktail of uncertainty and fear, and went home that night to a brand new house with an unfinished kitchen in a neighborhood where I still needed GPS to get to the grocery store.

I wasn't sure what was mine. Or if anything would ever feel normal again.

Yesterday morning my alarm rang at 6:30am.

My brain barely engaged, I rolled out of bed and into the shower. I got dressed, walked out the door, walked back in twice for various things I forgot, and drove to my neighborhood middle school to vote.

I stood in front of another "Vote Here" poster and looked up and down another street. I waved to some of my neighbors, also stopping by to vote on their way to work, and then stepped up to the table and gave a volunteer an address that was very much my own.

And then, with a quick stop at my regular coffee shop on the way, I headed towards the train station to start my day.

Suddenly, and without my even realizing it, what was once so new had become normal.


This past Saturday was the one year anniversary of our
move to the suburbs, so this week, I have change on the brain.
It has never stopped being fascinating to me the way we
adapt to change, and how the new suddenly becomes normal

27 comments:

  1. I love this Sam! So glad you feel at home now. And yay for voting!

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  2. That's great that you're finally feeling like your new home IS your home. That's the one thing I fear about living here in the city - that I will never really feel like "home", because the probability of me moving every couple of years, switching neighborhoods and moving buildings, is pretty high. I'm just gonna move in with you and your family, I think.

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    1. I moved 3 times in 7 years when I lived in Manhattan, and the Upper West Side still felt like home, even though I lived in different apartments. You will definitely get there. And if not, head on up to White Plains! We have guest rooms, and my husband just turned the garage into the ultimate man cave.

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  3. ain't that just the way it goes. and your old normal, all of sudden is foreign. meanwhile, i don't know about your suburbs, but when i moved out from the city and voted out here, i was amazed by the lack of people or lines. i just walk in, vote, walk in. weird. ;)

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    1. Yes! It was so crazy. In the city my line was forever, but yesterday morning I waited approximately 2 minutes while they found my name, and was out of there 5 minutes after that. And, on the way out, some 5th graders were holding a bake sale to thank people for voting. Sometimes the suburbs are just awesome.

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  4. I recognize this...I had moved, but was still voting in my old district for years because I kept forgetting to change my voter registration.
    I know, I'm terrible.
    At least I finally did it, though.

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  5. Just think if you had changed the voter registration last year. You wouldn't have had that moment in line to reflect and realize that your norm was no longer your norm and watch the people who used to be you. And now you can compare and contrast! Which is lovely, because you have accepted and embraced your new reality.

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    1. I have, and all in all, it's pretty awesome :)

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  6. So glad you feel at home now! I love your writing, Sam!

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  7. I lived at 28 addresses by the time I was 18, so I understand the weird moving phenomena. It's always great when you realize that your new home is now "home" though!

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  8. This made me smile. For you!!!!

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  9. That hurt my heart a little. Such a big change that CAN hurt a little even if it's a good thing. And of course voting is never bad.

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    1. Big change is really, really hard, but it's nice to know that we can come out the other end just fine.

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  10. I love that I got to watch you go from leaving Manhattan to being in your new home and now seeing how much you feel home there. Love that.

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    1. I love that you did too. Being with you, and everyone else, in this Yeah Write world saved my sanity last November.

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  11. My favorite detail was that you had to walk back in the house twice fors tuff you forgot That's me totally.

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    1. Yeah, it occurred to me on my second trip back in that that was probably the most normal thing that happened to me all morning.

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  12. Moving to New Jersey from Ohio, it took me a long time to feel like this was home. It's a wonderful feeling when it finally happens, isn't it?

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    1. It really is, and it happens when we least expect it, without us even knowing.

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  13. I think it's funny that you worried about getting caught for voting at the wrong poll. That sounds just like something I would do. I really like this theme of change becoming normal. I may write a post about it too!

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