I'm usually only one of a handful of people up and about in the early hours of a typical Greenwich Village morning. It's mostly just the few people who have no homes and who are waking up from their places in the park, the early morning types with dogs, and a few police officers strolling down the street. It's a refreshing way to greet the city, walking through the early morning hours without the crush of humanity. Short of people, I tend to focus on the sky and the weather, on the subtle changes of nature. This morning, the first Tuesday in November, I could enjoy the sites of the autumn leaves in Washington Square Park and watch my dogs jump into a pile of leaves, just like small children.
This morning was different, however, and I was not alone. My spouse and I looked forward to casting our votes for President as early as possible, and with the polls opening in New York at 6 a.m., we decided to make our way over to the voting location as close to 6 a.m. as possible. Coming down the elevator in our apartment building, we found ourselves in company with others making their way to the polls, and so we walked over to the building that houses our polling place together.
The line was already out the door. We enjoyed the congenial chat with our neighbors as we waited our turn. A young woman in front of me, I learned, was casting her first vote. Some made funny comments about the way their friends were dressed, as the early hour encouraged a decided informality. We had the privilege of voting on ancient machines behind curtains, pulling a large red handle to the right to start the process of voting, pushing levers down to indicate our choices, and then finally pulling the large handle back to the left. The act of voting on these machines is physical, and even somewhat noisy with the sound of the red handles, so the process feels quite definite but affirming.
Leaving the polling place and making our way back to the apartment to read the paper and drink more coffee, I thought it was great to have company for the first time in my early morning hours, and I felt better in general about all matters of things, great and small, than I had in a long, long time.
Image: IPhone image of Washington Square Park, morning of November 4, 2008 by Walking Off the Big Apple.