(One of the posts I wrote on my Swell 24.7 blog in my previous life as a gift store owner in the busy tourist town of Provincetown on Cape Cod; posts that are grouped here under the category What Else Is Swell?, and are generally about life in Provincetown, life as a retailer, our fabulous dog Jack who sat outside the store for well over a decade, and other random things that grabbed me at the time.)
The first time I was ever in a polling booth I was about 7 years old and it was in Llanstephan, in Wales, where I grew up. I clearly remember standing on my tip toes to see the ballot and my Mum looking at me and saying, in a very stern voice, "Don't tell your father". I was too short to see who she had voted for, and probably couldn't have read the names easily enough to know which candidate got her check mark, so she needn't have worried. But I never breathed a word of it to my Dad, just in case I said the wrong thing.
Fast forward more than 40 years (and a few thousand miles to Cape Cod) and once again I find myself in a polling booth celebrating a first; my first US Presidential election.
I've lived here more than 20 years; saw Clinton elected a few months after I got here, and again four years later. Bush Jr twice and then Obama last time around. But I was always on the sidelines, never a participant.
I became a citizen nearly 3 years ago and there are only 2 things that citizens can do that legal residents can't - vote and serve on a jury (I guess stand for President too but you have to actually be born here for that so that one is definitely out). I have voted in the past couple of years but this was my first Presidential vote, my first chance to put my check mark next to the person I think is best for the top job. And I have to say I was really choked up by it. I guess it's because I couldn't vote for so long and there is something very validating about finally being able to, finally knowing that my one X is being counted alongside all the millions of others. Being part of the process that chooses the President makes me feel, well, American. It's the last sign that after 20 years this really is where I call home. There's nothing left now to make me feel more at home.
Well, until I get called for jury duty of course.