When I’m nervous I don’t bite my nails, I just pick-up my emery board and go totown. I start filing them down. Way down. Looking at my laptop now I see the filed sawdust-like remnants of what two days ago was a beautiful manicure. Now I’m typing with stubs. It’s Election Day and I’m stressed the crunk out!
My phone rings: “Hey Nicole!” It’s my gumbo-making, Texas born, pistol-handling godmother. “Yeah, I’m calling to tell you I’m not going to have my Election dinner tonight. I’m just too tired. This storm has been so stressful. Everybody is fine, but I’m just not in the mood.”
“But I’ll do all the cooking,” I blurt out. “I just want to watch the Election results with you like we did in 2008.”
“I just can’t do it girl. Sorry, but I still have two cans of salmon I can give you.”
I hang-up, grateful for the salmon, but disappointed about the break in plans and in our lil’ tradition. I grab my metal nail file and get to work. As if things weren’t tight enough already with voter suppression, Romney lies, hanging chads and the like, I now have to deal with the chaos and exasperation that has taking over NYC’s already hectic voting process. I’m just praying that I get through today without blood on my cuticles. I’m that freaked-out!
In 2008 I wasn’t as stressed this early in the day. I had a nervous excitement when I woke up on November 4, 2008. I was thrilled that a Black man as polished, as intellectually untouchable and as BAWSE as Barack was running for President of the US. I wore my blue sweater and my low-heeled boots for party designation aesthetics and comfort. That day I had a childlike sense of excitement brewing in me and I had 10 fabulously manicured nails.
Today is different. In 2008 I had hoped Obama would win. I knew it was going to be a struggle and had spent the two days before Election Day at the Obama calling-centers talking to and getting hung-up by many folks in Florida. Election night my godmom had cooked up a fierce pot of gumbo. A platter of deviled eggs sat on her dining table while CNN blared from her living room TV. When we heard Obama won Florida we hugged and screamed with joy. And when CNN announced that Obama had won enough electoral votes to be our next president my god mom wept tears of joy. I mean she just sat there and cried. I understood. It was historic. I cried too as I tried unsuccessfully to call my mom. Phone lines were jammed. We popped a bottle of Freixenet that was put in the fridge “just in case” and neighbors came on by. Soon we were playing “Fight The Power” (the Isley Bros version) and screaming out the window to the frenzied, overjoyed, Harlem folk outside. We danced, cried and drank ourselves silly.
That was 2008. Four years later and the game done changed… again. We’ve heard the demands for President Obama’s birth certificate and college transcripts. We remember GOP official Marilyn Davenport sent that email of President Obama’s head superimposed on a chimpanzee. We heard Sen. Joe Wilson call President Obama a liar. And we also heard the Breaking News report announcing Osama Bin Laden had been killed. We heard President Obama loud and clear when he said he supported marriage equality. Then our Chi-town leader took the Apollo stage and gave us two lines of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” We (and by “we” I mean us dames) lost it! Dude can sing too?!?! Booyakaa, in your face!
I’ve had time to really get to know our Prez. It’s one thing to like someone, but word is bond, it’s another to feel like you’re invested in someone. Committed. Now it’s about protecting what we already have and there’s a lot on the line—The Supreme Court, a women’s right to chose and women’s reproductive health in general, and Medicaid to list a few. Jeesh, where’s my file?
Ok I’m headed out to vote now. Wracked with anxiety, but grateful for the opportunity I go #forward. Maybe I’ll make salmon cakes and grits tonight. I know I will not be at any of the four Election Night parties I’ve been invited to. I can’t imagine chilling at some club or bar with Rihanna’s “Diamonds” playing in the background with a bunch of people dancing Gagnam Style while waiting for poll results. I need to be at home where I can scream, cry, curse and shout. I’ma need some sanctuary tonight! That is all! I’m out. Emery board in hand.