Nov. 4th, 2008

redzils: (Default)
I voted a week or two ago, since I live (according to Google Maps) 4,200 miles from my polling place. That polling place is the gymnasium of the elementary school I 'graduated' from in 1992. I would love to go back and stand in line in a gym full of memories, before taking my turn in a catywampus, aluminum-pole-outlined, voting booth with raggedy red and blue curtains, but I have never had the chance. I turned 18 in 1999, in a dorm room in Eugene, Oregon, high on codeine cough syrup and wishing the fever would just kill me already. It wasn't a presidential year, but I was so proud to vote - absentee - for the first time, on the ballot I had applied for before leaving for college at 17.

In 2000, 2001, and 2002, I lived a six-ish hour drive over an icy mountain range from my polling place, so when I voted it was absentee. Since then I have been here, several (less terrifying, but still tall) mountain ranges and a whole 'nother country of driving from home. I continue to vote absentee, in the place I identify as home. I read something outrageous this morning which suggests that Alaska may go Democratic in the Presidential Election this year - possibly for the first time ever.  I doubt it - I am hoping we dont re-elect a recently convicted felon to the US Senate, but cant even bring myself to count on that, knowing the people I grew up with - but it is hopeful.

I have never actually voted for anyone in a state or federal election who then won. This is rotten and true, and yet I resist moving my vote to the swing state in which I currently live.  For me voting is tied up with residency, which jangles my heart strings in a way people who have ever gotten a driver's license in a new state may not understand. My Alaska residency is convenient, in that I get the dividend and impoverished graduate students like free money, but it is also defining. My dad's family drove up the Alcan in 1958, so us Zils have been in Alaska since before statehood (Alaska's statehood came late, in 1959). I was born there, and I am quite literally the only person in four generations of Zils to live outside the state right now. Everyone else is in Alaska, and mostly within easy reach of Anchorage (my school teacher sister, living in south-east, is the exception).

I've been eligible to keep my residency because I am a full time college student (and have been, an infinitum). That exception will expire soon, and along with figuring out my new life, I have to come to terms with either going home (where there just aren't the jobs I am looking for) or figuring out how to unhook my legal residency from my identity.  I am dripping tears as I type this, which is totally ridiculous and also utterly indicative of my feelings on the subject.
Setting my personal churning aside, I have candles lit as a way of recognizing that today matters and making my hope concrete. Please Vote. Please let us - the collective American us - vote from hope, and get the President who will help us towards a more reasoned, peaceful future.


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