Oh, to live in a battleground state!

I have a little (political) confession to make.

I've always harbored a desire to live in a battleground state like Ohio or Florida. Every election that passes by, I have watched the news with a pouted lip because my vote didn't seem to count as much as the votes in Iowa or Indiana or Colorado. My heart has burned with flames of envy as candidates continually passed by my hometown to stump in states where independents and undecideds abounded. No fair!

Of course, I can't really blame the politicians. I grew up in the beautiful state of Maryland---the seventh state to join the Union and the home of the Star-Spangled Banner---which has voted Democratic for over thirty years. We Marylanders don't just lean blue, we are drenched from head to toe in a royal blue hue. In the election of 1980, for instance, Maryland was one out of four states to vote for Jimmy Carter rather than Ronald Reagan. One out of four.

Then in the fall of 2000, I moved to the state of Utah to attend college---and not only did I move to one of the most conservative states in the nation, I moved into the most conservative county in the entire country. Talk about the color red! I was regularly denounced by perfect strangers for being a Democrat and constantly questioned how I could support a party that "killed babies." Once bitten, twice shy, I suppose. I tried to avoid political discussions as much as possible out at BYU. (Although sometimes I couldn't help but get roped in...)

Two years after college, I moved to the great state of North Carolina, home of the Duke Blue Devils and the breathtaking Outer Banks (where my romance with Justin all began). Although I grew to love my new adopted state, I couldn't help but sigh when the presidential primaries revved up in 2007. North Carolina may have a Democratic governor and a healthy number of both Democrats and Republicans in the House, but the state has steadily voted a Republican into the White House since 1980. That's before I was born.

*Another sigh* When, oh when, would I be able to taste the sweet savor of living in a battleground state? When would candidates sweep into my city to court my precious vote? When would my ballot actually make a difference?!

The answer is: RIGHT NOW!

That's right. To the bafflement of news media everywhere, North Carolina has become a toss-up state---and boy, am I excited. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have made numerous stops to North Carolina in the past six months---and both candidates ventured to my town of Fayetteville in the past couple of weeks! Even the BBC wrote an article on the new battleground status of North Carolina. This is unbelievable, I tell you, and I absolutely love it.

Come tomorrow, Justin and I will cast our votes at our local elementary school, and then we will spend the entire night biting our nails and wondering if North Carolina will turn a bright blue or remain a scarlet red.

Goodness me, this is even better than the Super Bowl, or---dare I say it---the finale of Project Runway.