Bud's school is just down the street from my office, but this morning after I dropped him off, I didn't head to work. Instead, I turned around and drove back to my neighborhood polling place. I could have voted after work, but I wasn't taking any chances. If I am hit by a bus this afternoon, my vote will still be counted.
As I drove through the quiet streets of my small town, with the sun glaring through my windows on this unseasonably warm day, U2's "Beautiful Day" started playing on my iPod. It's a song that will forever remind me of the Obama campaign and of the feeling of hope it has inspired in me.
I turned up the volume and as my car filled with music, my eyes filled with tears. I knew the election was important to me - elections are always important to me - but I was startled by the force of my emotion. Admittedly, some of that emotion may be fueled by exhaustion - emotional and physical - as several busy weeks at work and home have meshed with an intense obsession with the poll data, political analysis, and pundit prose that all culminates today. But as I wiped the tears from my face, I realized that it was more than just exhaustion. I realized how tense I have been for weeks - for months - for years - about the state of our country, the state of the world, and what it all means for Bud's future. There is so much at stake in this election - politically, economically, environmentally, educationally, medically. There is so much to lose. There is so much to gain.
I have been hopeful throughout this election season, but I have also been cautious. I have hoped before and have had those hopes crushed. But today, for the first time in a long time, I started to feel like it might really happen. I started believing - not just saying, but really believing - that change might be coming. Right here, right now, today, in polling stations across the country, we just might be changing everything.