Maybe the same way that my husband sort of disappears during a ballgame, I have sort of disappeared on him during election season. I get completely absorbed by election coverage on the radio or TV. I spend hours every week at the Democratic Party headquarters of Evanston, Illinois, making phone calls to get others to volunteer in Illinois, Florida or Indiana. One weekend I disappeared to Iowa to canvass for Obama. I'll disappear again next weekend. My friend Ceece and I will drive down to Cedar Rapids on Saturday, canvass, stay at a motel, canvass on Sunday and drive back. I will go to work as usual on Monday and on Election Day itself, but I will do so with the peace of mind of having put in a few hard days' work.
I spent several weekends canvassing for John Kerry in 2004. I canvassed from summer to fall. I lived in Wasau, Wisconsin for the last five days of the election, staying at a motel, walking neighborhoods, making sure every Democrat got to the polls, eating pizza and fried chicken out of boxes set up on office tables and working myself to exhaustion. I canvassed like my life depended on it, which it did. The coincidental Halloween holiday made it kind of fun to be out there. On Halloween night, I joined the costumes and the decorations and enjoyed knocking on doors even more. That day, part of our volunteer meals consisted of little candy bars.
It was fun; it was noble; it sucked. On election night I crawled into the large hall room the Democratic Party of Wasau had rented and laid down to watch the returns. As I settled myself, not caring how odd it was to be spread out on the floor when everyone else was sitting at a table or pacing, I already knew we had failed. I didn't need the returns or the concession speech to know that it had all been for nothing.
If we fail again, I don't know what I'll do. I'm married now, so killing myself feels selfish. I guess I'll have to kill us both.