I remember the green light from the dash reflecting off my dad's glasses. That made a big impression on me.
We were in the big, bouncing, moving truck, driving over the Sierra mountains and crossing the desert at night. I was 9 and my dad was 42. He had cashed out his retirement and was moving his wife and four kids, and everything he owned, across the country. My one brother was asleep in the middle seat, but I was working to stay awake, watching the lights of the freeway and asking my dad about every car he'd ever driven, every job he'd ever had, and everybody he'd ever voted for.
The older I get, the more I realize how bold that trip was. At the time, it just seemed like a move. But there was a lot my dad didn't know when he packed everything he owned into a truck and drove away from the city he'd always called home. He did it, though, because he believed the future could be better.
I don't always have that faith. I want to, though, and I have to say, I've been seeing it a lot lately. I'm looking at these voting lines and I'm seeing a lot of people with a bold faith in the future. I've been inspired by these people who "desire a better country."
It's inspiring, this boldness, where people act like Abraham, the patriarch from the Old Testament, and believe in a better country they've never seen. Abraham got up from where he was and went wandering in the desert, looking for the fulfillment of a promise. Anybody with that sort of faith is crazy, but he found what he was looking for, and there's a compelling case for that sort of craziness.
Since my dad moved us across the country, I've always been fascinated by the way people are willing to stake all sorts of things on the belief in a better future. I'm fascinated by immigrants and entrepreneurs, pregnant women and people preparing to be ministers, people who build things meant to last a thousand years, and people who plant trees.
I don't know of a better impulse than this optimism, or a more human act, than this faith. I don't know of anything more American than to believe things could be better.
It's one thing to talk about "hope," or "something bigger than yourself." These are code words in political speeches. It's another thing to vote.
For me, the long lines at early voting and advancing voting have to be ranked among the reasons the end of the world isn't imminent. I don't know where else you could go to see a line of people proclaiming the belief that things could be better.
That recent Friday, when it was raining, there was a long line of umbrellas out there, outside the courthouse, as people lined up. Bundled against the cold, there were all these different colors of umbrellas covering the line of voters as it wrapped around the lawn.
That made an impression on me. I don't care who you support or don't support, or what you think is at stake in this election, that was an amazing sight. It was raining and it was cold and they were there, anyway, believing in a better country.
If you haven't already, go vote today. It's a bold sign of faith and optimism.
Daniel Silliman covers crime for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.