Today, I Did Something No Other Woman in My Line Has Ever Done, Nor Ever Will Again


I want to capture today for my descendants, and, as well, to acknowledge the role that my ancestors played.

The first full day of Autumn was still sunny and warm.  The Moon was waning.  I overslept and didn’t wake up until 8:00, which is when I normally walk out the door and drive to work.  I made iced coffee, two poached eggs, and cheese-and-jalapeno toast.  While poaching the eggs, I did, as I do every morning, two study sessions of French on DuoLingo.

After breakfast, I sat for a while, enjoying morning in the early-Autumn garden, and decided that I’d work from home today instead of driving into my office.  As I do every morning, I pulled some Tarot cards.  The Gain Tarot card for today was the Ace of Air and the Lemorland card was the Dog.  I did my daily spiritual practice and threw in some magic for the election, as well.

I tidied up a bit, did a load of laundry, and checked the news on the internet and emails from my job.  I took out the trash and noted how, despite Monday’s heavy rain, all the plants looked dry.  I read some documents from work and then dressed in black yoga pants, black flats, a green-striped shirt, and my Hermes Citrus scarf — mostly blacks, yellows, oranges, and greens.  I called an Uber and went to Georgetown for my monthly hair appointment.

R. has been doing my hair for over two decades.  He brought me cucumber water and some magazines.  We smiled wordlessly at each other in the mirror when another woman two chairs over went on and on about her boyfriend’s ex wife.  I read Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Garden & Gun.  While R. cut my hair, we both bemoaned the horrible campaign (this is Washington, DC; we are a company town, and that company is politics; R. and I almost always talk politics, the way women in other towns talk to their hairdressers about local business, gossip, news), how Donald Trump has hurt American politics, and how unfair the coverage of Hillary Clinton has been.  R. told me that he hasn’t had a single client who is voting for Trump and I told him that, the other weekend on our way to Monticello, a friend and I had seen dozens of Trump/Pence signs outside broken-down trailers and tiny cement shacks.

Ubering home, I messaged my friend and we met at my house.  Just before he got there, I ran downstairs to the stack of old photos that I AM going to get organized and into albums one of these days (probably when I retire) and pulled out pictures of my great-grandma, my grandma, and, despite our difficult relationship, my mom.  I talked to her before she went into my purse with the others:  “OK, Mom.  I’m taking you along, even though I’m not sure you deserve to go.  I’m calling on you to do the work on your side of the veil.  I mean it.  And don’t fuck with me when we get there.”

We drove to the county office, one town over.  As we walked in from the parking lot, we passed a couple wearing their “I Voted” stickers.  I said, “We must be in the right place; I see the stickers,” and the woman stopped and explained to us where to go inside the building.  Today was the first day of “in-person absentee” voting in my county in Virginia.

We walked inside and everything was incredibly well-organized and we voted and were done within ten minutes.  I stared at the ballot with a woman’s name on it, made my X in the appropriate box, and then voted for a number of down-ticket Dems and on several ballot initiatives.

I’ve written before about how emotional I get when voting.  I remember that so many people I’ll never know died (including a family cousin in the Batan Death March), and worked, and suffered so that I can vote.  And I’ve always walked in surrounded by the women in my lines — genetic, legal, intellectual, and spiritual — women who never got to vote and who crowd around, wanting their turn now:  “Let me do, it, me!  I want to vote!  He wouldn’t let me, so I should get to do it!  Me, I got beaten, fired, shunned, me!  Let me make the mark; can I see?  What’s that you’re doing; can I do it?  Let me hold that pen!”  And by the time I show the poll workers my driver’s license (something else women had to fight to get) I’m usually a soppy mess.  Oddly, this time, with my female line in my purse, I had almost no trouble at all.  I filled out the form explaining why I would be absent on election day, got my ballot, thought about my friend’s grandmother, filled out the ballot, put it through the scanner, took my “I Voted” sticker, and left the voting room, relatively, although not 100%, dry-eyed.

My friend and I went to a local, little Italian place and had dinner (wine, grilled salmon, vegetables, and linguini) and then I came home.

Most of the days of my life, I’m aware that everything I do is my own version of what the women of my line have always done:  waking up tired, fixing breakfast, heading off to work, coming home and fixing dinner, doing some gardening, laundry, housework, knitting.  Finding a few moments to read and to record my thoughts, which “we’ve” been able to do for at least six or seven generations.  When I bend down to cut herbs for dinner, I can feel them in my muscles and in the sensory cells of my nose.  When I pull wet clothes from the washer, I am back with them along the stream bed and, when I put soup in a bowl, they move in me.  I feel their presence and I am comforted to perform the ancient rituals with them.  Most days, most of the time,  I am with my mother’s mother’s mother and with my grand-daughter’s grand-daughter’s grand-daughters.

Today, I stood entirely alone.

Today, I did something that no woman of my line has ever done, nor ever will do again.

Today, I stood alone in my line, reaching backwards and forwards, and I did the needful thing:  I voted for the first woman who has a good chance to be the president of the United States.

It felt important to me to bring my ancestors with me and I wondered why it had never occurred to me to bring them before.  I also reached out, as I made the X in the box for the woman, to all of my descendants, the two who are here now and those who may yet come. For just that one moment, I could feel all of them, ancestors and descendents.  I felt all of them move between the worlds and I felt them move in me.  My own DNA will never be the same, nor will theirs, going forwards, going back.  I have changed everyone’s DNA by doing this one thing, this undone thing, this thing which is unique, the needed thing..  I couldn’t help but remember than an early Pagan publication was entitled  Lady Unique Inclination of the Night.

And then I had an idea.  I’m not sure when I’ll find time to do it, but I’d like to make a book.  I would like to make a book compiling the experiences of people on the day that they vote for a woman to be president.  I’d love for everyone to take their ancestors with them to the polls, either in the form of pictures, or mementos, or seeds, or clothing or jewelry, or books, or ghosts, or whatever.  So please write down your own experiences on the day when you go to vote (what did you eat, what did you wear, where did you go?) and then please record them in comments here.  Include pictures if you can. If there are enough, I’ll make a book and figure out how to make it available.

I am so grateful to have lived to see this day.  I carried three women in my purse who did not live to see this day, and they were preceded all the way back to Mitochondrial Eve, preceded by so many women (and men) who have waited for this day.  I hope that I did them proud.

Picture found here.


8 responses to “Today, I Did Something No Other Woman in My Line Has Ever Done, Nor Ever Will Again

  1. Your post gave me chills! The good kind! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. This was such a lovely and relaxing post to read – it was also very visual in that I almost felt like I was with you while you went through your day.I will definitely comment on the 8th when I vote for Hillary.

    Btw, I love that image of the Neanderthal child – Elisabeth Daynes does fabulous reconstructions. Her website has quite a few pictures of the work she has done.

  3. Beautifully felt, beautifully written. Here in Oregon, we have mail-in voting. I no longer ‘go to the polls’; I go to and from the mailbox. I can carry my ballot into my home and SHOW my collective antedescendents (those whose faces smile at me from the walls, anyway) a real, legal, 100 percent verified American Presidential Ballot with a woman’s name on the top line. And I will make that incredible, indelible mark at my desk, with all of them as witness.

    Having served as the inspector of elections for years back in my small hometown, I saw a number of women who left the voting booth somewhat damper than when they entered. You and I are not alone, sister.

  4. I admired and resonated with the personal introspection, sense of humanity, and the guiding touch of memories and quiet willpower. It’s a beautiful flower of an essay, with unfolded petals and more petals beginning to open. Wonderful.

  5. Wonderful story and fascinating book project.

  6. “The Women Card” — a wonderful video with Get Lit — an LA-based group with spoken word poetry — one the very best videos ever!

  7. I loved this post and your idea of the book – sounds fantastic and genuine.

  8. I love your perspective. Thanks too for the pointer to Duolingo. I’m having a ball with it.

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