1988: I was in the fifth grade and fascinated by the first presidential race that I remember, although I'm not really sure I grasped the idea that Bush and Dukakis had different ideologies and policy plans. In fact, I'm not sure exactly what it was that had me so intrigued, but I was interested enough to work out that even though I would be 18 in 1996 I would miss the election by exactly two weeks.
1992: I caught on to the concept that the three candidates had different positions on the issues, and I followed the race with interest. Two of the social studies teachers at my high school were organizing a trip to Washington for the inauguration, and I desperately wanted to go, but I knew it would be expensive, even with fundraising, and I didn't want to ask my parents.
1996: I was disappointed that all of my new friends in the dorms at Santa Cruz were able to vote (or chose not to, which baffled me), but I wasn't quite old enough.
2000: In the spring, a friend asked in the dining hall at school if I was paying attention to the Republican primaries, and I informed him that I was afraid of McCain. "More afraid of him that of Bush?" my friend asked, astonished. "Yes," I told him. "Gore can beat Bush no problem." That November, it was dark and chilly while I stood in line to vote at the church around the corner from my house, and then went home and listened to results come in on the radio. I stayed up late and went to bed not knowing who the next president would be. If fact, it was weeks before it was clear.
2004: Before work, Brian and I walked to the synagogue near our house to vote. We waited in line with our neighbors, voted, and then headed in to DC for work. The following day, I joined others in the conference room at work and watched Kerry's concession speech. In January, disappointed though I was about the election results, I realized it was finally my chance to see an inauguration. I gathered with thousands of others, peering through the crowds on 7th Street toward Pennsylvania Avenue, hoping for a glimpse of something. Finally, we gave up and went home.
2008: Pleased that I was back in California where the primary was happening early, I was excited as I walked to the polling place up the street with Adriana in her stroller and marked my ballot for Hillary Clinton. I was torn between her and Obama, and I decided that I liked her health care plan and that she seemed more experienced. And, truthfully, I am a feminist and the mother of a little girl: it was exciting to vote for a woman for president. Still, I was teary with emotion when I listened to Obama accept the nomination over the summer, and I was proud to mark my ballot for him, and felt gleeful: who would have though I would vote for a woman and an African American for president all in the same year? Yesterday I woke up excited. I listened to the radio all day. I stopped by the Obama office in Palo Alto and made some last minute phone calls to voters in Missouri. I dressed Adriana in an Obama t-shirt, and went to my friend Rachel's house to watch the results come it. I cried a little with Jon Stewart declared that the race was being called for Obama, and more as I held Adriana in my lap and listened to Obama's speech.