It’s September. Usually I’d be reminiscing on a summer of travel adventure. Summer of 2019 brought a cruise to Mexico with my best friend and a week in Hawaii to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday. In between those two trips were weekend getaways to the mountains and the beach. Our house is where our group frequently gathers, so we hosted cookouts with family, enjoyed lazy days by the pool with friends, and our niece began staying with us a few days each week to lessen the burden of her 100-mile commute to work. Sunday afternoons meant a house full of various football jerseys, the tastes of wings and nachos and the sounds of hooting and hollering as football season was in full swing.

September 2020 is decidedly different, as has been most of the year. We canceled all of our travel plans and haven’t gathered with friends or family beyond a drive-by quick hello from a distance. Life just isn’t the same without the friends and relatives who used to turn every weekend into a celebration.

The thing I am most anticipating this fall is VOTING. November 3rd cannot get here soon enough as far as I am concerned. I’m taking the attitude that I’ve stayed away from others and been vigilant about my health and hygiene to carry me through to Election Day.

I’ve never been as excited to exercise my civic duty as I am this year. I have a score to settle with every person who yelled “ALL LIVES MATTER” in response to my Black Lives Matter t-shirt, and every person who refuses to wear a mask in the supermarket or the waiting room at the doctor’s office. I feel obligated to cast my vote because George Floyd and Breonna Taylor can’t cast theirs. Neither can my Aunt Carole and Uncle Bobby, who didn’t survive COVID-19. I feel a fire inside me, burning to elect people to office who will repudiate the overt hatred, violence, and racism that have become commonplace today. I look forward to knowing I did my part to right the ship and try to get things moving toward healing and progress. I am giddy at the thought of banishing bigots and racists back to the dark corners of society from which they only recently felt emboldened to emerge. I feel a kinship with the heroes of the 1960s civil rights movement and all they gave so I would have the right to cast my vote.

An African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I cannot do this alone. I know these things won’t happen overnight. Heck, at this point I can’t even be sure they will happen. But I do know they can only happen if we go together and VOTE. So, mask up and VOTE like our lives depend on it because sadly, many of them do.