...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Where were you? Where will you be?

This will be long. I'm just saying.

I do a lot of thinking on the bus. I mean, I'm constantly thinking, of course--we all are--but it seems a lot of my Deep Thinking takes place on the bus. I've stopped bringing stuff to read when I go downtown alone; instead, I try to savor the twenty-five minutes of peace and solitude between campus and the outside world.

Today as I rode the MAX from the Lloyd Center to work, I started thinking about where I was four years ago. The election is at the forefront of my world right now; most of my spare time is taken up by College Democrats stuff, but how did I get here? Why is this so important to me? What was I doing at this time of year eight years ago? Twelve? Sixteen?

I don't remember the 1988 Presidential election on account of being, you know, three. I do have vivid memories of 1992, though. I was in second grade at Crazy Hippy Elementary School, at that age where you're just starting to become aware of a world outside of your own narrow view. I knew the names Clinton and Bush, and that Clinton was good and Bush was bad, but that was about it. I remember asking...Alicia? Amanda? Alyssa? the director of my after-school care program who she was going to vote for. When she said Bush, I told her that my parents wouldn't let me talk to anyone who wasn't voting for Clinton. (Not true, by the way.) She was not amused. I wouldn't be either, if some seven-year-old smart-ass said that to me.

The day after the election, my teacher Julie gathered the class in a circle and told us how Clinton was going to bring a new hope to the world. She lit a sparkler, and as we passed it around the circle, we each had to say one hope or dream for the world. I wish I could remember what I said.

I remember our middle school mock-election in 1996 (the hallways were plastered with signs saying stuff like "Dole is bananas!" which I thought was so clever), but I don't remember anything substantial about the election itself. Mostly, I wish I could go back and slap my sixth-grade self.

As you'd expect, I have very vivid memories of the 2000 election. I was fifteen then, and a sophomore in high school back in Eugene. I remember watching the results come in the night of the election--that guy with the freaking white board, and Ashleigh What's-her-face's glasses--random things pop out as I recall that night. I went online periodically to check in with my Yahoo! Chat friends (I was really into chat rooms at that time, and spent a couple hours a day in a certain room. Upping the dork factor even further, it was a Broadway themed chat room, so we would have long, heated debates over things like whether Frances Ruffelle or Lea Salonga made a better Eponine in Les Misérables.**) I think I went to bed that night around midnight, awhile after doubts were first cast on Florida. I remember sneaking downstairs around 4 or 5 in the morning to see how it turned out; two anchors were proclaiming a Bush victory and sure enough, there was a full-screen shot of the outline of Florida, lit up like a traffic light. Dad woke me up a few hours later, excitedly yelling that there was still hope. That morning was one of the few times I was ontime to my 9:25 Values & Beliefs class. Everyone was arguing, pooling misinformation, loudly proclaiming imminent departures for Canada; naturally, I was doing all three. For a few days I went around with that sinky, roller-coaster feeling in my stomach, the one that's half way between pleasurable and nauseating. I know it well, because it's the same feeling I get whenever I think seriously about this coming election.

So I wonder where I'll be this year when November 3rd rolls around. I can pretty much guarantee that I won't be sleeping the night of the election--I'm sure that, at least, Sarah and Adam and Matt and I will keep an all-night vigil. I pray to God that when the results are in, we'll be celebrating. I pray. To. God.

**It's totally Frances Ruffelle, by a long shot. Ask if you'd like an explanation.