When I grab a new tube of toothpaste (or dishsoap, or handsoap or whatever), I usually just make a mental note, and the next time I'm out, I grab a new whatever-it-was that I just started using. That way, when the stuff I'm using is gone, there's always a spare one. Except I didn't do it this time, for whatever reason - senility, distracted thought processes - who knows. But when I went to grab a new toothpaste, I didn't have one.
That was irksome. I used Tim's brand, but once I was dressed, I ducked out quickly to buy two tubes of my favorite brand toothpaste.
That is how it came to be that I was standing in the check-out line with two tubes of 'my' toothpaste when it happened.
My phone went bananas. Absolutely freaking bananas. One 'ding' after another signaling messages, the musical tones that tell me I've got a text. I couldn't stop what I was doing, but I set my stuff on the counter, paid for it, and walked out of the door grabbing for my phone which was still making all sorts of noises.
What on earth was going on?!!!
And there it was. AP had called Pennsylvania. Our 20 electoral votes went to Biden. He was projected to be the 46th president of the United States. I have a private facebook page for local like minded souls, a place where we can safely discuss our concerns. My 'peeps' were messaging me and texting me.
I read them, one right after another as I sat in my car, and what I felt was relief. Just relief.
There was a celebration in my little town. People wanted to celebrate on the street in front of the courthouse. I knew that there would be signs, some of them mocking. I knew that people would drive by and they would yell epithets, because we live in a red county. We are the minority. I can't begrudge people their celebration, but I didn't want to be a part of that. I just thought that the gloating was in poor taste. I remembered what it felt like in 2016 to be on the other side of it.
So I spent the day working with my husband on our garage. I measured and marked the boards, he cut, I carried the board to the wall and used the level to make sure it was straight while he cut the batten. He came around the corner of the garage with the batten, I held everything until he got a nail in it, and then I headed back to get another 8 foot board from the pile and set it up to be cut. We worked together efficiently.
William was with us this day. Don and Brianna were celebrating an anniversary weekend. He practiced calling bucks in with his Tim's grunt call. He separated the recycling. He shot his bb gun at targets. He carried batten as needed, gathered up the wood scraps and dropped them in the fire.
In between his fun and his work, he was talking a blue streak. Nearly every sentence out of William's mouth begins with "Did ya know....?" Today he was telling his grandfather about the election. "Did you know that Biden won the election?" And Tim said, "Yes." And Tim had a 'did ya know...' of his own. He explained to William that we were the state that gave Biden and Harris the points that they so badly needed.
"Yep," William answered.
Grandpa said, "I'm glad it was us. I thought Georgia might be first, or Nevada, but it was Pennsylvania, and we ought to be proud of our state."
"Yep," William answered, and he went off to shoot at a tin can for a while.
We worked until dark and we headed home. We were all tired, and we wanted to have a celebratory supper. Tim picked up two pizzas. William and I picked out a desert. We sprawled on the couch watching CNN, watching the celebrations in cities from one coast to another, and people were explaining what this election meant to them, how ready they were for a change.
I listened to the speeches. It was about our country. About America. About Americans. About our history. A hopeful vision for the future. The speeches were not praising self; they were praising us. It urged us to set aside our differences and see each other as Americans. They quoted Ecclesiastes, telling us it was a time to heal.
Suddenly, there were big fat tears rolling down my face. They surprised me as much as they surprised everyone else. "What's the matter, grandma?" William wanted to know. Tim just looked nervous. Even after 22 years, the poor man has never quite figured out what you're supposed to do with an emotional woman.
"I'm just happy," I said.
I am not naive. I don't expect that life will be perfect, that there will be rainbows and unicorns farting glittery pixie dust every day. But I do feel hopeful, and for right now, that's enough.
In this election, 159.8 million people voted their conscience, and their conscience got Joe Biden and Kamala Harris elected. The people have spoken.
So be it.