A tumbleweed rolls down a street, passing worn campaign signs haphazardly placed in yellowing lawns beneath bare-branched trees. A single campaign mailer — featuring a man in a tie with impossibly coiffed hair — propelled by the wind, rests momentarily in the gutter before another gust carries it away. Somewhere in the distance a crow caws.

The midterms are over. At last.

If you ask me how long this latest election cycle lasted I will do my best Gloria Stuart impression and tell you like Stuart tells Bill Paxton in “Titanic,” “It’s been 84 years.”

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For those of us whose job it is to pay attention to and/or care about elections, this cycle has felt unending. There has been an onslaught of political mailers that pile up in our recycling cans weeks after we’ve already mailed our ballots in. There have been way too many attack ads during “Bachelor in Paradise” commercial breaks, and an influx of awkward conversations with those whose political opinions differ from our own.

But, now there can also be a real sense of loss now that the election is over.

I’ve never felt more important than I did living in a swing state, Colorado, during the 2012 presidential election. Every day pollsters called asking which way I leaned. Every knock on the door was from a canvasser begging for my vote.

MY vote. Me! Just some person who lived in an apartment and drove a 1994 Toyota Camry! They wanted ME to vote for someone for president because MY vote mattered in a crucial election in our nation’s history. Candidates for president were spending their money — millions even — courting ME, and I felt like a gosh darn VIP.

What a rush.

One might argue that my vote matters less in my current state of residence, Utah, where most elections tend to favor the same party. And yes, when it comes to the top-of-ballot races, I don’t get quite the same red-carpet treatment as I did in a purple state. But this midterm ballot spilled over onto a second page with all sorts of local candidates and issues for which I could vote. Some of those will ultimately be determined by the difference of a handful of ballots. My vote, and your vote, did and does matter for the future of our communities.

And it’s still a rush, especially when election results defy expectations. Look at us! We’re unpredictable! You can’t pin us down! You think we’re going to zig and we zag! It’s very exciting.

But now it’s over. And while I’m relieved to get back to a little less-full recycling bin without all those mailers, glad the “Bachelor in Paradise” ads can return to featuring medications that treat diseases I didn’t know existed, and happy to now have conversations that don’t all center on polarizing issues, I already miss feeling like what I think matters.

On a recent political survey call, the person on the other end asked me to slow down 500 words into my opinion on a policy position. One does not become a columnist without a true love for expressing opinions and getting attention, after all. Give me a chance and I’ll tell you what I think.

And now it will be a while until I have that chance in the political arena again.

The good news is we’re about five minutes away from a number of candidates launching their 2024 campaigns. And yes, it will be exhausting. And yes, for those of us whose job it is to pay attention and/or care, we will age another 20 years in two. And yes, we will grow absolutely sick of the mailers and the ads and the fraught conversations with neighbors and family.

But as the election grows closer, candidates not just for president but for congressional seats both federal and local, school board, city and county council, and beyond will court us once more. You and me! Just some people! They’ll spend their money pursuing our votes, and we’ll have the opportunity to express our opinions on the things that matter most to us.

Like the VIPs we are.