We are getting ready for our Tuesday afternoon yoga class. The kids are wound up, more than usual at four in the afternoon. Our school is a polling place, and there are stairways blocked off, signs saying Closed to General Public.
We are on the third floor, away from the voters, but the excitement and the questions of the day are still swirling around them.
We voted in our classroom today, they tell me. They call out the numbers. Twenty-four for Obama, two for Romney. Twenty-five for Obama, none for Mitt Romney.
We are in a city that is seventy-five percent Democrat. I am not surprised to hear the low numbers for the Republican candidate. They are voting the way their parents are voting. A small first grader with huge dark eyes whispers to me. My dad says that Mitt Romney will take our money and keep the poor people poor.
I tell them it's time to get started, enough talking about the election, let's do some yoga!
Mrs. H, do you know any Republicans?
The question suspends all the other activity in the room. The room stops buzzing. They are waiting for an answer. This is a city full of Obama bumper stickers and Obama signs in front of homes.
Of course I know some Republicans.
I reach for the Tibetan singing bowl. The sound will signal that it is time to start our yoga class.
Do you have any Republican friends?
I know this is where I could tap the bowl and let the sound signal that class has started. That all talking stops. I know I can't. The opportunity is right there. Staring at me with blue eyes, blond hair, and bare feet.
Yes, I do have friends who are Republican.
They look at me. Some of them blink. Eight small children with bare feet are waiting for me to talk about my friendship with a Republican.
One of my best friends is a Republican.
The irony of that sentence is not lost on me. But it's true. I tell them that my friend has been my friend for over twenty years. Longer than any other friend I've ever had.
I think about my friend. How my daughter calls her "Aunt." How we have a bond of friendship that is deep and caring. How we don't discuss politics. Ever. We are connected. You are more of a Republican than you think, she told me once. And you are more of a Democrat than you will ever admit. I know who she votes for. It bothers me. She knows who I vote for. And as much as she really like the man, she cannot get past the liberal issues. She is religious, and the issues go against her beliefs.
We don't talk politics. Ever.
In the last couple of years our friendship has waned a little. I think it's the natural ebb and flow of friendships, and not because of political differences.
I only tell the kids the important things. That my friend and I are friends for reasons that have nothing to do with who we vote for. That in spite of our differences, we respect and care about each other.
Oh, like when we say, Namaste, at the end of class!
The blond girl with bare feet takes over the lesson for me.
Like when we say, Namaste to each other. Namaste means 'the light in me honors the light in you.'
Exactly, I tell them.
I make a mental note to call my friend tomorrow.
I tap the side of the Tibetan singing bowl.
Even though we've already begun.