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I think most people use birthdays or calendar years to mark off those moments when a fresh start is warranted...there's something appealing about the idea of "this year, things are going to change!"

And I've occasionally fallen into that pattern, declaring a particular year (or age) the time when I make a change, get that fresh start, but more often---political junkie that I am---I mark them by election cycles. The promise of a takeover, a do-over, or a clean slate is very appealing, and I tend to try to match my own efforts at behavior modification or attitude adjustment to those.

Elections are big for this, and so are Inaugurations...they mark a specific era, in a way; a line in the sand of time. And they bring with them a sort of "that was then, this is now" way of thinking that goes nicely with any kind of behavioral change, at least in my experience.

Even to the more cynical among us, there's a sense that new things are possible, now that the [stress, frustration, anger, hard work, arguments, stress, tension, anticipation, and did I mention stress?] is over with. It seems like we've passed a hurdle, for better or worse, and now we can refocus, and commit (or re-commit) to a new path. Those fresh starts can leave you with a sense of well-being, a sense of being part of a greater whole, one that can tackle just about anything. It's exhilarating, and maybe even a little scary or overwhelming. What if it doesn't work out? What if, what if, what if...?

Despite latent fears, last night was no 2004. For one thing, I watched my team win last night, which is always good. But this one was different, too, for another reason. In my state, we got to voice our support for marriage equality, and I'm beyond thrilled that my state came through. The people of Maine made history last night, and that was pretty sweet.

This one felt personal. Maine's a small state, population-wise. We all kind of know each other, or at least it feels that way sometimes. We joke about only needing two degrees of separation here instead of the Kevin Bacon-approved six. If you don't know someone, you know someone who knows them. And so it was with the Yes On One video featuring a family from the same small town where my Mother resides. Apparently my younger siblings know them, and the sons they speak of; in this state, those "scare tactic" videos funded by out-of-state interests didn't stand a chance against videos filled with...well, your neighbors. Your friends. Your family. It's not an abstract...it's people you know.

I grew up with gay siblings. I have lots of gay friends, and have for most of my life. It matters very much to me that they are afforded the same basic civil rights as anyone else, and so this vote was personal.

Today, I woke up with a happy heart.

Now, I'm completely exhausted, because I just could not wind down after they called the major races and I got sucked into the MSNBC pundit vortex until the wee hours. I have that dazed, been-through-the-mill-and-somehow-survived feeling, but buoyed by having witnessed a whole lot of people in my state affirm what I already knew in my heart was right. I can't promise I'll be around too late tonight...I don't need Nate Silver to tell me the odds of my falling asleep on the couch are pretty high. But I'll do my best.

Here's to fresh starts and happy hearts.

                                       

                               

Who's your little buddy?
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