By Troy Headrick
I glance at the clock and note that it’s 6:26 p.m. The date is Friday, November 6th, 2020.
I feel mentally and physically exhausted. Earlier this week, on Tuesday—which seems like forever ago—Americans went to the polls to choose a president and many other elected officials. Despite the passage of nearly three full days, we still don’t have complete election closure.
It’s been hard to concentrate this week at work. I’ve felt nervous and dyspeptic. Now, oddly enough, on this Friday evening, as the outcome of the presidential plebiscite hangs in the balance, I’m thinking about myself. I’m wondering why any of this matters or, put more accurately, why it matters so much.
When I was a younger man, deeply involved in getting an education so that I might get started, I never voted. Though I was interested in all things political and had even earned my first degree in political philosophy, I never even filled out the required paperwork that would give me the legal right to express myself in such a way. I think, all these years later, I understand why I was a nonparticipant. It’s because I felt like I was invisible. Invisible people move through the world in the same way ghosts do. They are not touched by things, nor are things touched by them. In their travels, they leave as little trace as possible, and they certainly feel no need to step into anything even remotely resembling a polling locale. Voting is something the seen does.
I was poor at that time and thus considered myself invisible. I guess I’m something like middle-class now, whatever the hell that means. Having no money meant that I had no substance, which is often measured by material worth, at least in this country. The political world was not aware of me and thus did not speak to me because we shared no common language. As far as I could tell, it seemed not to be interested in (or capable of) speaking to people who were like me either.
I’m starting to ramble. I’m not surprised by that. In fact, I expected that I would end up meandering, going off course. This is the sort of piece that could end up going in many different directions.
I have long thought that I had emotionally divorced myself from America, but I’ve made an interesting discovery this week. That’s not true at all. Even when I was living overseas for all those years, I still closely followed the affairs of the country that had issued my passport. But I always thought that my interest was of the cool, dispassionate sort.
This week I learned how deeply connected I am to this soil and idea called “The United States of America.” I guess you could even say—though it embarrasses me to no earthly end to actually write these words—that I love this place. How outrageously corny!
The television and the internet tell me that we are going to soon learn that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have crossed the magical threshold. Then (and only then) will I be able to exhale.
And I know, at that moment of crossing, that I’ll feel something stirring in me that I will call “pride.”