Man without an Election Day

(San Jose, Costa Rica)–It’s late in Costa Rica. I’m here to work. I am among a ragtag group of local Ticos, traveling poker players, and lost gringos who gave up on America a long time ago.

After the 15-hour workday, I collapsed in the only place I know here. It’s a hotel bar where a bunch of funny-looking guys play cricket on television, a bra-less woman (maybe or maybe not a hooker) hangs on a traveler, and a dozen or so people like me suck down Imperials and Coronas in an attempt to come down from a day jacked up on Costa Rican coffee and work.

My companions on this night, at least those that stuck with me for the two-hour exhalation, were a corporate-lawyer turned poker writer and a journalist turned rock and roll photographer turned poker photographer. We range in age from 32 to 48. We come from different parts of the country and have backgrounds that range from one side of the country to the other. We talked for a good long while about subjects ranging from housing prices to the human condition. We spoke briefly of Election Day. We never mentioned who we voted for before leaving home. It didn’t matter. We were Americans in a third world country on the most intense Election Day of our lifetimes.

Today was a unique day in our little microcosm. Normally, a three-day event like the one we’re covering would mean two 14 to 15 hour days followed by a day that could last from six to 14 hours. Due to the vagaries of things that nobody outside of the poker world cares about, our Tuesday looks rather short. We start at lunch and could be finished before dinner.

Our newly-found Costa Rican friends have offered to show us the city on our unexpected night off. We’ve not committed to anything. We’re barely sure what to do. A 3.5 hour flight away, our country and maybe our lives are about to change in a way we will not see again in our lifetimes. On the day this happens, we will be in a place called the Herradura, watching a bunch of people play cards. When the polls close in my adopted hometown, I may be finished with work and I am as torn as I can be. I have a chance to see an exotic foreign city (a chance I won’t get again anytime soon) or I can sit in my hotel room and watch CNN International. I still don’t know what I’ll do. Neither will feel right. Neither will feel whole. Neither will feel real.

I’m sure whatever I decide will end up being right. Even if it isn’t, I don’t have any choice. If I had my way, I’d be sitting with my wife and watching three channels at a time and experiencing this moment together. No matter which way the election goes, it will define America more than any election in my lifetime. I want to spend moment with my wife. It’s the only way it will feel real.

So, I will wake up in a few hours and do my job. It’s meaningless wrapped in trivia and it will happen alongside the first time in my life that I have truly believed in the power and truth of democracy. My work life compared to the life about which I actually care is such a stark contrast, I honestly wonder if I can sleep.

I think I’ll try. And I don’t think I’ll turn off CNN.

It’s the only thing that makes me feel at home.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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9 Responses

  1. G-Rob says:

    Lucky for you, there are IMs coming from people who ARE excited and can’t WAIT to see what happens.

    You don’t want to miss this night!

  2. AgSweep says:

    Watch CNN. This is your children’s (yes plural, how does that sound?) future on the line. It doesn’t matter where you are you carry America with you. Our world changes today in unfathomable ways.

  3. Drizztdj says:

    I predict no fewer then 20 “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBAMA!! ” IM’s from G-Rob.

    I also predict a 1.5 hour wait to vote after work.

  4. Special K says:

    Go see the city. You’ve seen the coverage, just remember 2004 and replace the names. The real history will be on 1/20/09. Fun with friends trumps just about anything on TV. I’ll be wishing I was with some friends tonight instead of hanging in a hotel room.

  5. Uncle Ted says:

    CNN will be going on…and on…and on. You’ll be back here to live the outcome soon.

    In the meantime, live where you’re living…in Costa Rica…enjoy what the locals have to show you.

  6. Lee Jones says:

    Hey Brad –
    There wasn’t that much to it, it was like any other electi^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^

    Okay, I lied. It was a defining moment in American history. But Lisa was asleep at 10:00 PM ’cause she had to work early the next day. I stayed out to marinate in the unmitigated joy that was permeating the air in Asheville.

    But like Special K says, 1/20/09 will be just as defining a moment. I suspect that will be when it really sinks into us that we’ve turned the world on its ear. So for now, enjoy the warm latitudes and the Tico hospitality. The buzz here isn’t going to wear off for a long time.

    Regards, Lee

  7. Aw, this was a really good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a
    great article… but what can I say… I hesitate
    a whole lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

  1. November 6, 2012