We walked up from East Passyunk toward somewhere near the City Center but not yet quite having a destination in mind. After walking past a dozen orange and black “WYATT” lawn-signs, and canvassers wearing WYATT t-shirts — and a what I’m now recognizing was a GOTV door knock at my Airbnb this morning — I realized it was in fact actually Election Day. Because, right, it’s Tuesday.
I cross the street to talk with a poll volunteer for Tom WYATT, a local guy, lives in Ward One, over across the way. He wasn’t taking any corporate money, and no donations over five-hundred dollars. A reformer. Wants the distribution of property taxes to local schools to be more fair. At the top of the shirt, above the small Tom which was above the very large WYATT, was “#27”. All of the local political ads, door-hangars, lawn-signs, window-posters had a different number on them. It’s bizarre but yet also fascinating for a numberphile and a recovering politico each candidate on the ballot gets their own number like an address on the ballot. So they just slogan together “Press Button 27 for WYATT.” Or for Reform. Or for whatever images and texts and ideas you thought would win. Or should win.
I asked John in his bright orange WYATT t-shirt if he thought there was a way I could get one of these shirts. We exchange numbers for after the day is over. He’s traveling next week with his husband to visit his daughter who lives north of Auburn. “You’ll fly through Sacramento?” He’ll fly through Sacramento and picnic at a lake near there where they go every year. I’m pretty certain I know which one he’s talking about but neither of us can remember the name. “No, not Tahoe.” No, not Tahoe. The one with the island in the middle. The one Cean and Keegan tried to swim to but found it to be a bird sanctuary so had to walk along the shore all the way back.
We continue past South Street and its uniform receding line of red street lamps and then eventually find the movie theatres we were maybe hunting for, in a quest to escape the heat despite the coming thunderstorms looming past the invisible horizons. It was a bright day, barely muggy, the day you wished you’d worn shorts for. But all of the independent theatres are shut down for the day; the first for a special screening, the second for some form of building mechanical failure, and actually, well, the third wasn’t shut down but only playing obscure foreign films with subtitles that just would do.
An empty square in the Old City timelines — in a rook’s cornering— the life of William Penn, so I walk its dates pockmarked by the publications and deaths of philosophies and philosophers and then we walk up around and then behind Liberty Hall and I remember that a year ago, unintentionally but literally to the day, I shot my first time-lapse of a building.
Where once I stood still and looked up, now I move and plot a course with a steady hand, an finishing-school gait, and the attempt to think in both timelines and the parallax of spaces.
On an election day in the city for which the opportunity to elect began.
That night, amidst the thunderstorm, I check the election board website on my phone.
Tom Wyatt receives 7% of the vote.