I voted yesterday. Four hundred forty-fourth in my ward. Maybe my new lucky number?
I remember learning about civics and government as a middle schooler. I was a nervous student of the social sciences; I recall my teacher imparting, with what I perceived to be immense gravity, the import of what we were learning. I wanted to get the facts right. I mean, sure, I constantly pursued the ‘A,’ but how could I let down our founding fathers? Or worse, the suffragettes?
I’d perform poorly now on tests of the subject matter that captivated and awed me as a young teen. This is not a point of pride, but fact. I’ve arrived at the juncture of life where I have forgotten more shit than I’ll ever learn from here forward. Also not a point of pride, but fact. My short term memory is breaking up with me, and it’s getting ugly She doesn’t even want to be friends. *sigh*
I distinctly remember my seventh grade teacher telling us that participation in the democratic process allowed us to keep the biggest, most important secret we’d ever have. She told us that no matter what, no matter who, no matter where, no matter nothing! that no one, NO ONE, could make us share the names of the candidates for whom we voted. You could be thrown in a torture chamber, held at gunpoint, but no one had any right to force you to divulge your vote. Being able to vote elevated you into a secret society, and the secret was yours to hold forever. Pinky swear, cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye.
Pre-teen lack of guile, middle school innocence? Call it what you will, but her lesson stuck. I thought it was so, so, so what? So neat that one day I would get to vote, and you could ask me, but I’d never have to tell you who I voted for. Even if you said please. “Neat” is how I came to think of my little secret. I still kinda do.
You know how I voted yesterday though. I can invoke my nifty privilege to keep mum, which I intend to because middle school social studies class, you guys! But you already know.
I hope you voted yesterday. Social media and 24-hour news networks allow few secrets to be kept these days. You don’t have to share on which side of the aisle you sit, stand, or filled in those little Scantron circles–you too get to keep that private. Forever. I slept poorly last night–want to watch/can’t watch/have to check/don’t want to know election returns returned–stole my sleep, but I woke today with a smile. And the teensiest ray of hope.