I’m supposed to go downtown, to the Blue Room or maybe the upstairs meeting space, to join the media scrum watching returns with a few of the candidates and their people. It’s a quaint Greensboro tradition — I don’t know of any other city where a reporter can talk to so many candidates at once on Election Night in one space like that, though I’m sure it happens elsewhere. Like in the Midwest or something.

I was in the Midwest just a couple of days ago: walking up and down Michigan Avenue, cruising the Chicago River, feeling that big-city energy course through me. I counted the artifacts on the sides of the former Tribune Building, a Gothic masterpiece that has long since been converted to expensive condos. And I sat next to a doctor from Lake Charles, La. at the hotel bar. We talked about our fathers while I ate a bone-in strip steak and he drank exactly one Belvedere martini, with a twist.

I used to drink on Election Night, starting off in the caesura that forms after the polls close and before the returns come in. Which is right now.

I’m supposed to go downtown. But Sayaka has got the news angle covered and the photographer is ready to go. I’m not even writing up the results* — Sayaka is handling that, too.

I’m supposed to go downtown, but for what?

This afternoon I was supposed to go out and hit some precincts, gather string for Sayaka’s story. Instead I found myself driving out to the White Street Landfill, which the city had the lack of foresight to install just a few miles from downtown, in a Black neighborhood, naturally. The landfill closed to municipal solid waste in 2007, and the threat of reopening it became a campaign issue in the 2009 Greensboro City Council Election. That was when we all learned about the municipal solid waste stream and plasma gasification. For a short time there, we were thinking a lot about our garbage, and our responsibility to it.

We don’t do that anymore.

I’ve been covering these elections for a long time. This would be my seventh one — I missed 2013 because I got fired that day. I watched the returns alone, on my couch — that was the year Dianne Bellamy-Small lost District 1 by 11 votes to Sharon Hightower.

I’m supposed to go downtown, and I guess I probably will, even though I don’t have much to do. It’s a Greensboro City Council election, after all, where else am I going to go?

* I did, after all, write up some of the results.

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