I did something I don’t usually do today: I picked up a call from an unknown number. It was my area code, and I’d been trying to coordinate a ride to Vermont for this weekend, so I thought it likely it was someone I’d want to talk to.
It was Emma from the campaign for Marriage Equality in Maine. She was calling to ask if I’d volunteer on the phone bank next week, at the UU church. Same place I phone banked in 2009, the last time we voted on my right to marry. She said that we need to keep having conversations with Mainers about marriage equality. Polls are showing that 58% of the population supports our right to marry, but we also know that the opposition is going to release the same lies about us as the last time, turning away about 5% of our “soft” supporters.
I told Emma I wasn’t sure, that I’d be just getting back from a weekend away.
She asked me what it was like for me to volunteer on the campaign the last time. I told her I was very involved and very excited about the campaign. I told her that the day after the vote, I could hardly face my world. I said I still feel emotional about it. I am less tolerant of people who oppose marriage equality, and I’m angry about having a vote on my civil rights.
She said she completely agreed and felt the same way. She said, “I don’t like having people vote on my rights, either. I just want to do everything I can to have the vote go our way.”
Then she said, “Would it be easier for you to make recruitment calls to supporters like yourself, like I’m doing now?”
I had to admit, it seemed an easy thing to do. Emma was doing it. And I believe she did feel the same way I did. I don’t know anyone who’d been there who didn’t feel a crush of disappointment after working so hard on something so important to us. For me, working on the campaign had been a revelation about how many different kinds of people were willing to come out in favor of gay marriage. The experience actually busted some of my own prejudices and stereotypes. I was beginning to think the world was becoming the place I’d always imagined it could be.
The day after the vote, I felt I’d been slapped. I felt paranoid, wondering which of my vocally religious coworkers had voted against me. And my partner. And my partner’s mother. I thought about the gay couples with kids and winced. It takes a lot of love to hold a family together when the majority votes to keep you legally unrecognized. It also takes a lot of legality and effort that other folks don’t have to think about.
I said yes. I glanced up in time to see a hummingbird land on our geraniums, then veer away. Tears sprang to my eyes.
Emma then asked for a donation. I donated what I could afford. I want to keep the phone banks running. I do want this. I don’t want the fight, I don’t want a vote, I don’t want hatefulness, and I don’t want my own intolerance and anger. But I do want equal rights. And I’m willing to do what I can, as Emma so simply put it, to have the vote go our way.
I had the day off today. My employer didn’t have any work for me. That’s how it goes as a per diem. I spent the day doing one simple thing after another. I picked up a few groceries. I returned my work laptop. I walked the dog and visited with campers. I found places for and planted the two mystery tomato and two basil plants someone had left at the edge of the garden. Then I loaded the back of the van with wood chips and did some mulching. I read.
Walking Honey-Bear after supper I met some neighbors and their dogs. I learned that we have a horse named Pearl living on our street, whom I hope to meet one day soon.
I looked up at the overcast dusk sky and saw a smudge of light that must be the same moon that last night was so sharp it looked like it would cut my finger.
I’m the same person I was yesterday, but I feel realer to myself today. I don’t know if this is joy, but I do know that it is peace. I wonder if it has anything to do with saying yes.