*Note: I started this last week, in the most optimistic of moods. The news Friday that the country had lost one of its quietly powerful voices was devastating. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, thank you. You were, are, and will always be the hero of my adulthood.
If you had vaguely referenced 2020 to me in the most sugar-coated way at any time in the past, it would have seemed BADASS.
“You know how you wanted to spend time to really, like, find yourself, but also be able to pay your bills, more or less? You’re not gonna believe this, but…”
Weirdly, though, something my soul had yearned for – most of my life – just looked a lot better on paper.
Trust me, I’m over 2020 just like the rest of you. In fact, even reading “2020” or any references to it just makes me tired and mad, and I even hate myself a little for starting any piece of writing referencing it. I feel like I should have to work a little harder for writing material, and writing about being over this year is the lowest of low-hanging fruit. But it also leads me to my point, which is something I really do intend to make, so relax.
I’ve spent the past six months getting furloughed, re-hired with a new job title, laid off, re-hired tentatively with a third new job title, and re-hired less tentatively with an additional job title. I’ve collected unemployment of varying amounts and scrambled for freelance work. I’ve also managed to keep paying my son’s tuition, which is honestly something that’s incredibly important to me as a parent, because he’s crushing it, and he’s my kid, so.
I’ve taken classes and learned about remodeling bathrooms – one of those due to dire necessity. I’ve tried to homeschool, raged out at my stepchildren, and resultantly built the best relationship we’ve ever had (they’ve been cool the whole time; I was the problem).
I’ve gained weight, gained more weight, and learned that I don’t want to style my hair no matter how many hours I have available in the day. I’ve strengthened some relationships and weakened others. I’ve read everyone else’s success stories and sulked. I’ve perfected my ideal chocolate chip cookie recipe, but never once considered making sourdough. I’ve collected masks for occasions both plain and fancy.
But none of it mattered as much to me as what I did today. (Well except hanging out with my husband, he’s great.)
Today, I was sworn in as a voter registrar.
If you’ve ever been married, you know that going to get your marriage certificate is super fun for you two, but the clerk’s office has seen it all before. Well, so is getting deputized to register voters. I was there after volunteering for a Voter Registration Day event, when I learned about getting deputized, decided I wanted to practice saying deputized ANYWAY, and called the clerk’s office to inquire about the process. She was effusively excited and told me to come in, well, this morning.
I put on my “Votes for Women” earrings, matched my outfit to them because I’m not a slob, found a coordinating mask, and hopped it on over to the courthouse, where I found out that they were not waiting with balloons and confetti or anything. Still, as the kind lady walked me through the steps I needed to take and exhibited patience and kindness, I still felt really excited and all goose-bumpy.
Maybe because I grew up in a politically-active family, not to mention my dad’s collection of political collectables and books, I grew up assuming that everyone thought the right to vote was the greatest thing ever and knew the history and long, hard fight generations of women embarked upon for the right to vote. While it’s been 100 years this year since the 19th amendment was ratified and women received the right to vote, it was still many years later before ALL women could vote. Too many years.
Because of that, every election seems like a sacred gift to me. Even if I don’t like the candidates, I’m going to cast that vote. There were too many years when it wasn’t allowed, for most of us. Even after the 19th amendment was passed, it was only passed for white women. Black women did not receive that right – shockingly, unbelievably and tragically – until 1965 with the signing and passage of the Voting Rights Act by LBJ.
And, when I hear disappointing news coming from politicians who vote against the rights of women, minorities, and the LGBTQIA+ community, I remember those who came before us and the years, DECADES, they marched for the right to even have a voice.
There will be disappointments and triumphs. It’s part of life. But please, remember that so many of our ancestors would have done anything for the right to march up to the polling station and cast a vote for democracy. The right to be heard.
Got questions about voting? They can be answered here, from registration to name changes to address changes, from voting in person to absentee to mail-in. You have until varying dates by state (Missouri is October 7) to register.
Above all, happy National Voter’s Registration Day! And thank you to those who paved the way.