A knot of anxiety, excitement and trepidation tangled up in my gut as I approached the table and handed my driver's license to the severe looking woman with a ruler in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.
I was a trembling 19 year old, and it was time to vote in my first presidential election. She would be the first poll worker I'd encounter in my young life, but not the last.
I'd been raised in a very conservative home and since dear ol' dad was a staunch Republican, he had let me know pretty clear who he thought should be the choice. But mostly he was just very clear that I should vote.
On polling day, I knew I had the right to make my own choices, so I thought a lot about both candidates and what they promised. With my mind made up, nervous but ready, I went into the polling booth and cast my vote.
There was a very satisfying tactile response from the voting machine. Click, click, click, then yank the lever. The curtains pop open like a low budget talent show, aaaaand you're done.
I've voted in every presidential election since my first in 1988. My choices have ranged over the years from conservative to liberal, up down, back and forth, east and west. I always vote after doing some research and doing a gut check to see what I think is right.
My choices have not always been the victor or even popular, but that's ok. My vote was cast.
Over the years, I didn't usually vote in the minor elections or even the mid-terms, but since moving to California, I've been better about that. I've voted in almost all the elections that have passed through, including the elections where there wasn't much to vote about.
And so here in mid-October, it's time to start thinking about voting again. November 2nd looms large on the horizon.
For the State of California, this is a big election. We choose a new governor from two really poor choices (I don't want to vote for either one, but I guess I'll have to pick). This is also a big election for the country as many Congressional seats are up for election.
Even if you think your vote doesn't matter, please, I'm asking you nicely, get out and vote.
Many candidates and pundits are not only expecting that people won't vote, in some cases, they are counting on the fact that certain demographics won't vote.
Prove 'em wrong. Vote anyway. Vote just because you can. Vote because it's the one of the few times you feel like you get to make your voice heard.
I'm not here to lobby one side against the other.
I'm not here to back any candidate.
I'm not here to back any party's agenda...
I'm just saying...vote, ok?
As a final thought...
A few years ago I signed up to vote by mail. It makes things very easy, and I'm more likely to cast my vote in any given election because of this simple process.
But sometimes I do miss that nervous knot I still get in my gut when walking into a polling place. It's so official, almost ceremonial. There is a reverence for voting that you can only get at an official polling place.
The word knot is the subject of this week's Theme Thursday