Written by Justin Packard
This is my new friend, Beulah Lomax. She is 78 years old, and I've known her for all of fifteen minutes.
I met her today at our voting location, as we both were challenged by the voting scanners and perforated ballots. We separately received help from a cheery volunteer, and then Beulah threw me a quick glance of mutual "surrender to technology".
As she and I made our way to the exit, I offered to escort her wherever it was that she was heading next because, frankly, I wanted to experience Beulah for a little bit longer. As she took my arm, I got my wish.
Beulah told me of her experience moving from her hometown of Winston-Salem, NC, to New York City in 1960, at the fresh age of 22 to be a live-in nurse for "high society", as she called it.
She told me about her time living in Brooklyn in the 60's, then moving to midtown Manhattan, and the last 30 years in Washington Heights (my first apartment when I moved here was in Washington Heights, then Midtown, and eventually Brooklyn before now coming back to the Heights).
During our slow but steady trip down the block, she told me she was worried about all the rain today. You see, Beulah had arthroscopic surgery on her knee after taking a fall while working outside for the parks department in nearby Bennett Park. (Bennett Park, I told her, is my daughters favorite park, and we go there almost daily. She said I should look for a plaque or a sign or something that they have posted there that has her name on it, for the work she did to renovate the park a few years back. She isn't sure where they posted it or if it is even still there, but she saw it once, and it was wonderful.) The slipperiness during the rain makes her cautious to travel outside of her apartment, but as she said, "Today I was surely coming out here. Rain or shine, I was voting."
As we reached Beulah's destination, which happened to be the candy store on 181st street (hell yeah, Beulah.), I sheepishly asked her if it would be ok if I took a picture of us together, "so I can remember this day."
Without hesitation, she replied "Oh sure, honey. Just let me get my 'picture face' on."
She then took a deep breath, and smiled.
I voted today. Beulah Lomax voted today. This is New York City, and it's also Everywhere. It's Brockport NY and it's Winston-Salem NC. This is the America I want to be a part of.
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is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.