Saturday, January 31, 2009
Voter Number 36
When I first moved to New Mexico ten months ago, my physical self came willingly but I had to drag my spirit along kicking and screaming. Southern born and southern bred, I thought I was back in Texas to stay after spending many years living all over the rest of the country.
Then just as the economy started it's slow dive into the toilet, I got a truly wonderful job offer that, as it turned out, was more blessed than I could have imagined. Of course, the economic dive into the toilet was also much deeper than any of us could have imagined.
At any rate - the move was a good one - a smart one - and I'm grateful to be here. We've lived in lots of small towns over the years but I have to admit this one is a real charmer.
Our son-in-law is running for the school board so I went by the courthouse to vote yesterday. I was voter number 36. The clerk who helped me was very nice. In between banter with her five year old granddaughter, who was darting around in the office, she laid out all the paperwork I would need to officially - and very secretively cast my vote (like she didn't know who I was going to vote for). It involved a very large ballot and multiple envelopes. After I'd filled out all my personal information in her presence, she directed me to a small table at the far end of the clerk's office with a shield around it.
Once I'd cast my secret vote, carefully folded the ballot in two places, sealed it in the first envelope, put that in the second envelope and sealed it, I walked the nine steps back to the counter and handed the entire package to her. She wrote the date and time on the outside and handed it back to me. She then led me to the official black plastic ballot receiving box that was about three feet away. As I dropped my very secret vote into the padlocked box, I was confident that no one in the clerk's office would have guessed that I voted for my son-in-law.
I left the courthouse bound for the school gym to watch my grandson play in a basketball game. As I parked the car, I thought about the different direction my life has taken in the last ten months. I run the only medical facility in the entire county so I've been blessed to get to know a good number of people in our community. I see them in our lobby, on their way to our lab or xray department or in the dental office. They'll pop into my office and visit or some just wave as they go by. It's a good feeling and I like it.
I still miss my Southern roots - but I've discovered New Mexico sunrises and sunsets which are like nothing I've ever seen before. But more importantly, I've found the deep sense of community that comes from not just living in a small town but participating in the life that goes on there.