I voted on the first day of my period last weekend. In fact I was so laid up in bed with cramps that morning that I almost decided to call off voting until the following day. But I started to feel better in the afternoon, and decided to go get it over with despite news footage of dauntingly long lines all over the city as well as pictures my husband kept testing me from upstate where he was voting early with my mother in law. Also the day had gone from a dull grey dreary one to a lovely Fall afternoon when the sun came out later. Weather has a huge impact on voter turnout. I also figured (and I’m not kidding) if I got there and the line was too long I could just hit the Chipotle and come back another time.
I voted at an Armory in Washington Heights. The line was on the same block with the Armory and when I arrived the line hadn’t even reached a full quarter of the long block it started on. I felt good about it. I got 6 feet behind a guy, leaned over after a minute to confirm with him that I was indeed on the line for voting and just got comfortable for bit. As we moved up the block. which happened frequently and significantly, I let my surroundings sink in. The sky, the iron work on gates, the homeless people, the doctors and nurses and ambulance drivers from the hospital across the way. As we turned up the corner to the left, the gentrification stores were lined up, Starbucks, Chipotle, and the like. Across from that was one single tree with leaves turned gloriously and fully golden. I meditated as a firm breeze encouraged it rained gold on the street. I took pictures of the tree. I wanted to always remember it.
On that corner I noticed what looked like a coalition of food delivery guys with their bikes parked close together. The day glow bright spokes on their wheels, the insulated box shaped bag packs, the bike gear, helmets. They were all brown. All Latino men by my guess. I started to wonder about their ages, where they lived, if they took care of families, if they were married or dating, how much this job paid them. I took a few pictures of them as well but they didn’t capture what I saw, what I felt watching them.
Halfway up the next corner on the opposite side of the street I started talking with the guy in front of me. He was Black, it’s important for me to say. I don’t know who started it. I think he asked me a question. We talked easily, back and forth about the election, Covid, the electoral college. Previously that day, he had been in a line at a whole other voting site for 2 hours before getting to the check in table and finding out he was in the wrong place! He could have called it a day. I might have. But I was glad it hadn’t happened to me so I would never find out. And I guess I was glad he came to the Armory as well instead of turning back. It was good to have someone to chat with. Plus…
YOU HAVE TO GO VOTE IN THIS ELECTION! GO VOTE!
We talked all the way to entrance of the Armory, him walking backwards and trying to maintain a constant 6 feet away each time we advanced up the block. Then he was whisked off somewhere opposite from me by a few poll workers. I advanced as directed stopping and waiting from one 6FT pad to the next and grateful to be able stand for a bit and survey my surroundings. It was a nice clean, chill interior. Warm colors. Track and field stripes on the floor. I took a nice shot of a woman leaning over the table I was headed to and signing her name. The light was perfect. Calming. The poll workers (mostly of color) were fired up, clear, and encouraging. I was in and out with a free stylus pen and a sticker. One of the poll workers cheered and thanked me as I walked out.
A young White lady walking her dog asked me how long I had waited. The guy I was talking with told me we clocked in at an hour and a half. She said she would be voting the next day. We smiled at eachother and parted.
Then I went to Chipotle. Now the wait on that line was painful…