11/04/2008

Changing History

Today Mary, my storyteller friend in Missouri, sent this wonderful article from the Christian Science Monitor. And lo and behold, its written by a man in Charlotte, NC, my hometown, who learned he was not too old to learn something new. And yes, its about the election, Barack OBama and hope.



Maryland does not have early voting.
With all the stories we had heard about the long lines at the polls in other states Jim and I decided to go very early.
It was dark outside, but thank goodness not raining, when I picked up my purse to head out to vote.

Fortunately we were able to pull into a spot across the street from the school when we saw that the parking lot was filled. People were hurrying in from many directions as we crossed the street and quickened our pace. They were lining up inside the school building so we could not tell how many were already in line. By the noise level when we entered the building we knew it was a lot even before we started walking toward the end of the line. The line snaked down the corridor toward the back door. I would guess say that where we stepped into the line there were at least 150 people ahead of us.

People of all sizes, ages, and colors - all smiling and happy. Some came carrying large coffee mugs from home, others had steaming just-purchased paper cups of coffee. And most everyone carried something to read or had iPod ear plugs lines hanging down.

Many people were nattily dressed for office jobs, others for a heavy day of outside work or for a day at home. I marveled at one woman who walked by me toward the end of the now longer line - she was stylishly dressed - wearing a longish white coat and carrying a large, shiny turquoise vinyl bag - but it was her 3 inch black patent stilleto heels that really impressed me - actually they made my feet twinge. I wondered how she would fare standing in line on those stilts.

A white haired and bent black woman limped in to vote. I wondered if she had ever dreamed she would walk into a place like this to cast her vote for another African American for President.
or am I making an assumption - she could be voting for John McCain. Naw!

I heard an elderly man about six people behind me tell someone, " I am 86 years old."
Think about it - he would have been 21 in 1944 and if he voted that year he would have chosen between FDR and Tom Dewey. Today the major choices include Barack Obama - and if this man votes for him - he is participating in not just CHANGE but the making of HISTORY.

We had only been in line, inching forward, for 45 minutes when we reached the school multi-purpose room where there were 10 voting machines set up. We have voted here since 1970. I have served as an Election Judge in this room. It was familiar. Sign in was quick. Voting was smooth and quicker. It only took 2 minutes for me to vote for Barack Obama and against
slot machines. When Jim and I were done we donned the small "I Voted" sticker.

On to Starbucks for our free coffee.

I don't usually drink coffee - but today
is special. One for the History books.

Salute!

On another subject:
I am re-reading Patti's Digh's new book, Life is a Verb ( I hope you all have a copy too.) Chapter One: Write to Remember - "we all need mechanisms for storying our lives in order to remember them, and leave them behind for others." (page 3) I guess you have figured out by now that this blog is one of my mechanisms for capturing my stories. That being true I want to remind myself of something about the clothes Jim and I are wearing in these pictures.

You can barely see Jim's blue patterned sweater - the Benneton sweater he bought in their lovely small store on the Marienplatz in Munich in the 1980s. Our son was in the US Army and stationed in Munich. He and Monica lived in a very nice apartment - Army Quarters. Their daughter Juliana was born in Munich. We broke a few plastic cards going to visit and obviously to pick up a few goodies. Jim's sweater, which he has thoroughly enjoyed and taken very good care of is in tip top condition -and he intends to wear it until it falls off his back - for the memories and because "its still good." I love seeing him wear it because it prompts my memories of other times he has worn it.

Now that faded well-loved Green Milleniuim Turtle sweat shirt I have on is another story. The cuffs are frayed and it is stained but I cannot let it go and I shamelessly wear it out of the house. I bought it in Nova Scotia in 1998 when I went there to tell stories at an international storytelling conference. I was just getting my steam as a storyteller and it was a great experience. Jim and I had a good time.

I love this shirt. It is heavy with memories, not just of Nova Scotia but of all the places its been with me since then. For instance, I just wore it one cold morning in Tennessee as I was tent monitoring in Jonesborough - so there are fresh stories clinging to it.

There was a time in my life when I jumped to get new clothes at any opportunity. Today I treasure the old and worn and familiar.
And being wrapped in all the memories they carry.

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