I felt a deep need for purification after the Bush election. I had done my best, working for three weeks as a volunteer for the Kerry Campaign in Akron, Ohio. When it was over, I wanted to rid not just my mind but my body of the Bush Campaign. The ritual of the mikvah felt right.
I had been to a mikvah once, before my marriage two years ago. It’s the kind of mikvah a nonreligious New Yorker can feel comfortable with—right next door to the Stand-Up New York Comedy Club on the Upper West Side.
When I called to find out mikvah hours, I told Mrs. L. that I felt the need for cleansing after the election. She said she did, too. (She was a Bush supporter but didn’t vote.)
The pre-mikvah preparation is purification in itself—removing all traces of nail polish, navel lint, checking for nipple cleanliness. Before Mrs. L. let me climb down into the pool, she inspected me for total cleanliness; no prayers because this was not a pre-marriage or post-menstrual immersion. Then into the water, jump up, completely immerse, surface fast to avoid touching the sides of the pool. Three times. I didn’t feel purified, but I did feel cleansed.
“See you in four years,” Mrs. L. said as I left.