My day started out by getting out there to get health insurance since I lost my job the other week. The first stop was the hospital where I still have a bill. While I waited two groups of children came in, got paper hats from someone at the front desk. As I walked past one of the groups a little girl said, "We're going to be doctors." I responded, "That's great I can't wait till I get an appointment with you." She suddenly looked nervous as she turned to her little friend saying, "It's only pretend."
The lobby was full of people. Sick people, visitors or people like me, I couldn't tell. Finally the woman in the business office came out and when we were in the privacy of her office, gave sympathy at the loss of my job. Her sister just lost her job of 26 years at the phone company. Like my experience, her sister had no warning and is afraid. I didn't ask why her sister was afraid. I was too worried about getting my asthma meds for when the money runs out. Funny thing, but insurance companies aren't happy with 47 year old humans with asthma. The woman sends me up the hill to a place to see about getting some meds on the assistance program. The woman up the hill consoled me it would be okay and then sent me with a form to my doctor's office for a referral.
All this time I remembered it was election day and that I should write this blog but all I could think of was the importance of my asthma medicines. Okay, so I probably still need my anti-depressant since I suddenly, without warning lost my job, but breathing is a big habit I would like to keep up. I walk out of the office to the next medical form building down the street. Walking to the community center a car zooms past me, hurrying away from the voter booth. I'm not sure if this is a good sign or not.
As I walk past the voting area the booths are set up and all is calm. Only a few people are in there voting when I go by at 9:00 a.m. and no one looks worried or afraid. This is good I think. We live in a small town and there are no protests, no ugly words, not even signs or political shirts.Today is an important day in history and everyone seems to be going about business as usual. Upstairs I'm told I probably won't get hospital assistance if I get sick, so fear rises a little as I walk back down the stairs and past the voting crowd. There is a crowd now, even a line. The booths are all filled up with a mixed variety of men and women but the racial factor is white. One of the challenges of living here for me has been the lack of color. I miss diversity. Everyone looks calm but me. For them, this is just an election...or is it?
As I return to my car another patient from the doctor's office approaches her car and I see the Obama sticker on her bumper. I have to speak to her and we are both cheered that there are at least two of us in the area this day. Yesterday a car passing me and my friends on the highway was giving us the thumbs up as he passed because we had an Obama sticker on our car and so did he. We live in mountain country, which translates often into Republican territory. Mountain people are known for their dislike of anything new or foreign or different. Obama is different and yet, I see signs around the neighborhoods saying Obama. As I go to my car, a woman passes me and looks just like an old parishoner in Florida. The woman's name was Hope. I see this as a good sign.
On this day without a job or insurance there is more footwork to do. As I drive to Western Carolina University and then Southwestern Community College I see Obama/Biden stickers on cars. I don't see McCain signs in any yards and the only sticker was on the bumper of a car from Florida. If they are here on vacation can they vote? I stop by to say hello to my priest who then has his dog, Maggie, bow and say a prayer for me. What a great place. Next, a stop at the Radio Shack and I overhear a covert conversation as the one employee with a blue shirt says to his customer, "I'm not supposed to say anything so I wore a blue shirt. You'll notice I'm the only blue shirt in here." His customer asked him if he voted for Obama and I had to look. When he nodded yes, I whispered my encouragement and agreement. The three of us then laughed like three teens in on some big high school secret.
As I drive through downtown, all is pretty quiet. Mylar baloons of red, blue and silver float over the Old Courthouse at the end of Mainstreet as justice looks on. The streets are quiet even for a lunchtime in Sylva. The next stop for a rake takes me past the new courthouse. I notice all the political signs at the bottom of the hill are those supporting the Democratic party and think how hard the volunteers have worked. I'm pleased. As I walk into Roses I see my first McCain/Palin shot of the two of them screaming on some tee shirt for sale in the men's department. Upon my arrival home, my 87 year old housemate tells me Obama is winning. The time was 4:30 and the polls aren't closed yet but we are still holding on to that hope. In my life of voting, I've NEVER seen North Carolina vote democratic but the Bush years have hit us hard. The times they are a changin' and we can only hope this change is good.