Having a home in Pennsylvania as well as New York City, I know my vote would be better served in a swing state like PA. But, as longtime rent stabilized New Yorkers, we're unable to give up New York citizenship.
That said, today was our early voting adventure day in NYC -- a seriously dreary, cold, rainy pre-Halloween day. The experience reminded me why I love this country and why I will always love this City. Ghost Town my ass, Trump.
Our plan was to get to the Lincoln Center early voting site at 7:00am. We knew we had failed when we woke up at 8:30am. By then we needed some breakfast first. The rain was falling hard, but we found a place that had an awning and made camp. As we ate, the wind suddenly picked up, our masks blew off the table and the awning's ample reservoir of rain water sprayed over us.
We decided it was time to go vote.
We got to the site and found a line that wrapped around the entire block with seemingly no end in site. One of the enduring wonders of the City are those omnipresent Sidewalk Sheds -- temporary metal-and-wood structures that can sometimes feel creepy to walk under, and are absolutely everywhere. They aren’t pretty, but they do perform the important function of protecting pedestrians from crumbling building facades and other construction hazards above.
But even better, they are a godsend when it's dark & stormy. The entire city block was pretty much all under cover, making our wait far more intimate and dry -- no umbrella's needed!
The vibe was pure New York. The poll watchers were friendly, supportive and helpful. They knew how long the wait would be as we moved slowly forward and were very encouraging as the wind swept over us all. They also kept thanking us all for voting. The feeling of excitement, of doing something uniquely important and perhaps even historic started to creep over us.
The line was approaching another corner for us to turn, and it was a particularly dramatic wind-chilly moment in our 45 minutes-to-date wait. I was beginning to wonder if this was all worth it. We turned the corner to hear some '50's music. There, under the Sidewalk Shed, outside P.J. Clarke's restaurant, was a huge vintage jukebox and a long table decorated for Halloween with huge steaming urns of homemade hot chocolate (with marshmallows) -- and -- bags full of chocolate chip cookies! Not only was it all free, but the servers were young, adorable and they thanked us again for making the effort to vote.
I Love New York.
Our wait was just over an hour. When we got to the entrance door we were welcomed to the Emerald City at long last. Literally! We were told to follow the Yellowbrick Road once inside and all would be explained.
Inside, everything was amazingly managed and capably staffed. We had our "Fast Pass Tags" with us (we got them in the mail) with their scan-able bar codes, which efficiently sped up the registration process. We received our ballots, and filled them out in privacy booths. Seeing the Biden / Harris category was an emotional moment for us both. The pain and anger of the damage done to our democracy over the past four years flashed over me with a chill far more unpleasant than the dank weather outside.
And then, we went over to the many scanning stations to record our votes. We proudly popped on our WE VOTED EARLY stickers and snazzy rubber wrist bands. The rain had picked up yet again, but we both felt considerably warmer now and more impervious to the weather. We told the folks waiting on line it was well worth the wait, to hang in there -- buck up, there's hot chocolate around the next corner!
New York City, in times like these, really does feel like like One Big Community, one where we truly believe we are in this together. New Yorkers are a unique and diverse group, but when we need to rally, we always do.
In all my many years voting in NYC, I have never felt such an all-encompassing sense of urgency, camaraderie and emotion. There was another feeling rattling around in my head, one that I fought hard not to consciously feel. But, superstition be damned, I let it in. I felt something I hadn't felt once in any of the past four years.
I felt optimistic.
I'm born and bred in New York City but have a cool log home to escape to in Upper Black Eddy, PA.