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Jill Robinson Headshot

Daily Life

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I am smiling at this small oval sticker. In the center, two red stripes, and at one end of the egg shape, there are three white stars set in dark blue. In the center white stripe there are two words: I Voted. Around the oval is a garland of these two words, repeated in the letters of several languages. One of the languages is Japanese.

I dressed nicely to vote. Did not wear my Obama button. (Don't start trouble.) I pull on a safari jacket to hold my ballot, my ID's. Yes, wear this red, white and blue bow tie. This is an event, once every four years. Acknowledge the dignity of this right. I carried my walking stick. There might be a long line.

I walked through the park, which belongs to the Veteran's Administration. During the Second World War, this was a camp circled by barbed wire, where Japanese Americans were interned. They were citizens, born here, but suspected because they looked like the people we were fighting.

I expected to wait; and was ready for conflict, ready to frown at a definitive opponent. I cased people walking by. There was no line. There was no tension. I looked confused, and a volunteer looked at my ballot.

"You're at the green table, that way," she smiled. So they knew I believe in global warming.
There was an Asian woman at the ballot table. Had her mother grown up here during the Second World War? I voted quietly, carefully; slipping out my prop notes (was that cheating?) handed in my ballot to Larry, his name on his cap. I walked out into the sunlight.
Like many friends I've been obsessed, spending far too much time expecting clues from TV channels about the results of the elections. Writers I work agreed we might not know the results of this election for days.

We watched the lines in Florida, feared for friends on the East Coast. My daughter, her favorite tree uprooted, smashed into the front of her house in Upstate Connecticut, still does not have power. Asking her what she thinks about the election, whether she can get to the polls (has she got enough gas to get to work?) seems beyond the point.

For most Americans, most of the world's people, our own daily lives are the point. I remember hating the phrase "daily life," when I was a kid growing up in L.A. I did not want a "daily life," like a housewife, you'd know what time you'd get up. Everything would have a pattern. A daily life would be disciplined, neat. You'd keep your crayons in the right order in the box. Have your homework done before you go to bed. Write your thank-you notes, plan the weeks dinner menus, what you'll wear for weekend events, and the gifts to send your aunt and second cousin for their birthdays next month.

I wanted, and achieved a life I can look back and see as a series of dramatic scenes.
And in truth, the foreseeable daily life was a vision of 1950s America. For most people, any orderly recompense, any reliable relationship or predictable future is devoutly to be wished and rarely endowed.

I came home, place the "I Voted" sticker on my desk lamp.

Americans on our own are resourceful; we invented a mobile society with not a lot of daily order, but an enormous amount of inventive spirit.

Things happen. They don't always go our favorite way, to say the least, but we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, look around to see what we can do, how we can help.

And we go on. What pleased me most today was that I could do this: could walk over, get the ballot right side up in the slot, mark down my choice clear and firm, fold the ballot and hand it to Larry. This was a fine day. As much order as I'll need for this week. Much as I'm likely to have. I picked up my pen. This I suppose is my daily life, after all.