Sharing Change, Savoring la Cambia

It was raining.  The one streetlight, posted 50 feet in the air, struggled against the dark. I struggled to read names on a typewritten sheet  It was part of a street canvassing packet in a manila envelope, with a map, prepared for us by the Durham County Democratic Party.

We were in East Durham.  We were on Fernando Street, where mailboxes are set on the right hand side of the road, in pairs.

“408 Fernando,” I said, “is the home of Venia Jones.”

The mailbox said 40_ Fernando.  On top of a scored aluminum box, molded letters spelled out the name — Alphonso Atwater.  The last digit was bent off.  I wondered, was it 408?  Or had it been that Atwater bought the box, but now Jones lived here?  We stared at the box for a few moments.

“Let’s go ahead and see,” said Susie.

She walked into the dark and wet yard.  Was that a shed or a doghouse in the back? Some pluck, I thought.  What about those dogs?  What about guns in the warm house?  This is a difference between myself and my wife.  I am more cautious.  I think Susie has an expectation of fair play.  Maybe that is what living in a small town confers on its children.

I heard a bunch of metal skidding across a surface.

Susie knocked on the door.  Ok, sure, let’s knock.

Bang.  I ran into a bunch of metal on the surface of the brick walkway.

“I thought you would have seen that,” she said.

Nope, not in the dark. No one was home.  She knocked again.  Then a shadow moved across the light inside the house.

“What do you want,” a gruff and potentially angry voice said.  I thought, ok, when they open the door, you look out for the dog. I make sure that everything is safe in the yard or in the car.

“We’re from the Obama campaign,” Susie said.  “We’re coming out to encourage voters to go to the polls.  We can drive you if you need.”

“We’re looking for Venia Jones,” I added.

“Who are you looking for Venia Jones?,” the voice said. “Hold on!”

The door cracked.  A light came on over the doorway.  A older woman peeked out from behind her door.

“We already voted, today,” she said.  She gave us a smile.

“Great,” we said in unison.  What else can you say, in the rain, at a stranger’s door, in the dark?  It didn’t sound so exuberant, though, because the shutting sound of the door drowned out the end of our exhortation, in spite of its brevity.  We exited the front walk.  The grass, wet and dark, lapped on the toe of my running shoes.

Then the door opened again.

“Hey,” said Ms. Jones, “thanks for being out tonight.”  She leaned against the door.  She was smiling.

I think this was the payback – strangers sharing a special night, otherwise from very different walks of life, but with common aims on this night.

The world is becoming more and more of a lonely place.  This same interchange happened all night.  No one needed a ride.  Everyone needed someone to share the victory with, though.  We were witnessing something special, something historical, and those kinds of things are best shared.  Even John voted blue in the end!

We didn’t meet up with any “losers,” perhaps because our list was populated by registered Democrats, or any non-voters.  It felt kind of nice.  It didn’t look like pandemonium, but it was fun.

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One Response to “Sharing Change, Savoring la Cambia”

  1. susiepostrust Says:

    You described that night perfectly. That woman’s face in the dark, grateful that we shared her hopes. It was a special moment. And I think you are right that growing up in a small town bestows and expectation of trust. Or at least that it’s ok to knock on people’s doors.

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