The first time I sat up late watching an election, it was 1992 and I was still living in my parents' house and I was not old enough to vote and I was angry about it. My best friend at the time didn't have cable, and so she and her mother were sitting up with their radio, and I was calling them with updates. She wasn't old enough to vote yet either.
Tonight I'm sitting up late in part because I've been scrolling election results all evening, which has slowed everything else down considerably. You may already have heard Ohio's news (and we raised the state minimum wage! and we're going smoke-free!). I'm eyeing the Montana, Missouri, and Virginia Senate races now. Tomorrow, back to our regularly scheduled program, if I manage to force myself to bed.
In 2004, it took me 10.5 hours to vote. Today, it took eight minutes.
But in 2004, there was no waiting for results: by the time we burst out into the middlenight, giddy and empty with having sat and stood and been filmed by TV crews and grasped at any tiny bits of news coming in from any direction, by that time it was all over, almost. We'd missed all the trickling in of numbers. Tonight, by contrast, everything looks as though it will go on and on. I check the news sites; nothing has changed. I check them again; still nothing.
And yes, I am well aware that I'm playing out a whole other drama with my checking and checking and checking, waiting for what will tip the 49.4% v. 49.5% balance. Where is that extra .1%? And what is it made of? Green velveteen, I'm guessing: that short shocked texture of slithery soft, of color that naps one way and the other, the texture of my childhood, the texture of jokes that are not. It's easy to hit the "reload" button on my browser, and so I keep doing it, well beyond my bedtime.
And yet, look! I hit "reload," and suddenly many more votes are in. Perhaps things will tip after all.