L.A. Affairs: Need another reason to vote? I found love at a polling place
While political discussions with friends and family have become heated and are best avoided at all costs, there is someone with whom I can discuss politics, coherently and to my heart’s content, without the head-banging that usually accompanies such conversations. Someone who inspires, not infuriates, me. My political junkie best friend, and boyfriend.
Red or blue, it matters not. What does matter is the connection we have forged, so vitally important during these strange and isolating times. Our discussions are invigorating, not exhausting. Enlightening, not bewildering.
And where did I find this gem, this fellow political junkie with whom I share an affinity for all things political?
Becoming a single mom by choice seemed insane: I was a public schoolteacher, not a lawyer. I didn’t even have paid maternity leave. How could I afford daycare, diapers and doctor’s appointments? I expected people to think I was crazy, but they were supportive.
I was practicing my civic duty as a poll worker at the Crown Cove assisted living and memory care center polling place in Corona del Mar in 2018.
I was wearing a red shirt since I knew I looked good in red, or at least that is what people tell me every time I wear it. But I was also wearing blue jeans, so I was embracing a patriotic, not partisan, color scheme. I took my seat and prepared to begin my very long day.
I was expecting to be one of the few poll workers under 70. Not that there is anything wrong with that; that’s just the way it is due to the time commitment required. Only the most avid of political junkies not of retirement age volunteer for this job.
So imagine my surprise when I looked up and there he was, that most holiest of holy grails, a poll worker under 70!
I didn’t stand a chance with Libby. She was a gorgeous blond dancer. I’m short, and I wear glasses. When I tried to tell her how I felt about her, she (gently) shot me down.
And cute too. In my astonishment, I was momentarily rendered speechless.
While on the face of it not a big deal, this was actually A Really Big Deal to me. Having worked at the polls mostly with seniors since the 2008 election, finally working with a fellow GenXer was novel, and I looked forward to a pleasant experience.
Usually a job with long hours to endure — the work can be hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror as the polls close, and then it’s over — this was now an opportunity to enjoy.
I casually started chatting up the new poll worker during a coffee break.
Suddenly the job felt like a first date, a really good first date that lasts for hours and hours, a date you never want to end because you just have so much to talk about. A date with someone so interesting, you completely forget all about checking your iPhone and instead want to focus on the person sitting right in front of you.
My path seeking love had been long and circuitous and took me through many L.A.-area neighborhoods. I kept looking for “The One” but kept getting stuck with “Not This One.”
By the end of the night, I was in love (exaggerating only a bit). Brian was cute and he made time fly. How many people can you say that about?
I thanked the karma gods above. Had I really found him? The person I had been searching for my entire life, my political soul mate? I mean, who else but a die-hard politico would volunteer for this crazy job, with the long hours? Clearly, this was a labor of love.
For date No. 2, we went pedal boarding (similar to stand-up paddle boarding but with pedals — his idea) in Newport Harbor and discussed, of course, politics.
I think of the total randomness of this and smile. What serendipity! Forget dating apps and swiping left or right. Here I had discovered the perfect way to find a romantic partner with built-in compatibility.
Who cares whether we are red or blue? They say opposites attract.
The important thing is not that we agree on everything but that we are able to appreciate and respect any potential differences of political opinion without resorting to the anger, hatred and vitriol that characterize the political universe today.
We are able to make talking politics not contentious but flirtatious. Careful not to force our own political beliefs, yet at the same time able to play devil’s advocate on the opposing side.
This happens outside of politics too. I introduced to him to the joys of owning a dog. (He’d never had a pet.) He is an extrovert. I am an introvert. He works in finance, is a numbers guy and is interested in politics on a local level. I’m a word person, love that his texts are grammatically correct and am into national politics. He brings out the social in me. He gets me.
We’ll spend election night together, watching and dissecting the vote count.
So as the world continues to grapple with all the chaos, I encourage everyone to look at these toxic times as an opportunity to engage with others, put aside your preconceived opinions, and speak not with rancor or toxicity but with an open mind.
Learning to listen, agreeing to disagree, and choosing not to hate but to hear what the other side is saying just might be the best dating advice you can get.
The author is a mobile notary public in Laguna Beach.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.
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