Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Happy Ending

 As luck would have it my canvassing partner on Election Day morning in the Burque (as locals call their fun city) was Hunter Riley, who just turns out to be one of the people in all of Albuquerque I most have wanted to meet and talk to. Hunter's a manager at Self Serve, the charming sex shop I'd called to get hooked up with the hippest activists in town—Young Women United, and writes the monthly sex positive column in the Santa Fe Reporter.

Spending the day into night with the valiant community that is Young Women United was like dying and going to activists' heaven. You cannot imagine a more skilled and sensitive execution of a GOTV campaign. They got results and built friendships, community, trust, and mutual respect all along the way. The food and caring was everywhere abundant, and one could relax knowing that one's fundamental humanity would be supported as we joined together to work our butts off to send this proposed abortion ban after 20 weeks—no exceptions—back to hell where it was conceived.

I took the opportunity at the break between morning and afternoon canvassing sessions to drive down Central Avenue past the enormous UNM campus (Go Lobos!) to Self Serve Resource Center to buy a bunch of condoms; they have a fabulous selection priced from 25 cents to $2.50, the top of the line being the thinnest yet safest available. Owner Matie inspires confidence, and she really informed me about the stock (all non-toxic products). Though I think she may have upsold me; my purchases ended up qualifying for the volume discount!

While there, I pitched Matie a Literary Reading Series that I'd conceived on the gorgeous drive down from Santa Fe that morning—The Strap-On Reading Series. Basically the idea is that every literary artist who would dare read in the series would read while wearing a strap-on. I think it would help Literature and I'd be happy to go first.

Cormac McCarthy with a strap-on, anyone? George R.R. Martin...?
Back at HQ we got some tentative positive numbers from the early voting and felt encouraged as we sortied out for the afternoon session, this time four of us in my little red Honda Fit, back over to the West Side. With all of us working together we covered our whole turf, and submitted our data via the Mini-van app on a smart phone in time to revel in one of those blazing New Mexico sunsets that turn the Sandias to coral.

Before the polls closed I ran over to the Bareles Senior Center at the very end of 7th Street to vibe the atmosphere. Business was brisk as savvy voters rushed in during the last fifteen minutes to shut this thing down. I spoke with Janiece Jonsin, the sharp-eyed poll observer for the Respect Albuquerque Women campaign who had been on duty poised on a metal folding chair since 2pm. I asked her what motivated her to serve this campaign in today's capacity and for months previously organizing the phone-banking efforts in Santa Fe? “I was one of those women who had to have an illegal abortion. We never want to go back there. I think all women should have access to safe and legal abortions.”

Miguel, who hails from California but has lived in ABQ the better part of three years, thinks the city wasted a lot of money on this special election.

Likewise I asked Miguel, age 31, what had motivated him to cast his ballot on this day? “You know what? Good question. It shouldn't be legislated. People are good, I believe they make the best decisions in their interest.”

Our Victory Party was at the very stylish and swank Hotel Andaluz, walking distance from headquarters. All three local news affiliates plus Al Jezeerah America were in the room to document this historic pushback. Pure pleasure.

On the romantic ride back to Santa Fe, the moon and stars and vast blackness were my companions. Billie Holiday was on softly in the background and her velvety voice was mingling with all the other resonances from the marvelous encounters of the day.

Our bodies. Our lives. Our decisions.

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