November 5, 2008
I'm still waiting for it to sink in.
I was so nervous and doubtful and scared and anxious, despite a positive and assured attitude that I was projecting on election evening. Robyn and I went to Marx Cafe, and as soon as we got there I was annoyed with people. I'd SO been looking forward to this for so long, but when it came down to it, I didn't feel so hot, felt kind of solitary. Margaret and Leesil showed up and their friends too, and the place got more and more crowded and we were squinting at TV monitors across the room. I was irritable and worried. The results so far looked hopeful, but I didn't trust it. I had such matter-of-fact hope for the last two elections, and, deep down, I just didn't have any hope left for this one. But I believe in the power of positive thinking, so I was just putting it out there...
When we left Marx, Obama had Pennsylvania and it looked like he'd get Florida. I talked to Gene briefly on the phone and he said Obama had secured Ohio. That seemed like it put him over. But I was still skeptical. We went to Margaret and Leesil's and continued watching. The TV stations were so desperately creating ridiculous filler. The panels of experts with their laptops? The holograms? We watched, cynically, uneventfully.
Then, very SUDDENLY, there was a graphic on the screen saying, "Projected Presidential Winner Barack Obama." We looked at each other, not comprehending, unable to compute. Amid all the fodder, they were going to drop the news, just like that? It didn't seem like it could be true. I felt like we sat there for 5 minutes or so, looking at each other, looking at the TV. I got up to hug Margaret, started crying, shocked, heard screaming outside. So I ran outside and started screaming too, jumping up and down (on my left leg), neighbors emerged from their houses, banging pots and pans, screaming all around, ecstatic elation abounding, all around, hugging and jumping and screaming and dancing, people I've never met and probably won't again- we were all HIGH, completely another state of consciousness, I had to go over to the porch with the folks who'd first let out hollers. We fell into each others' arms, jumping and screaming. They invited me in and we drank celebratory Hennessy and wandered around ecstatic and incredulous, went back to the porch. Other neighbors came out, we were all friends, we were all unbelievably relieved.
We went down to the White House, we had to. It was packed and euphoria emitted from everyone all along the way. People were waving American flags out of cars, and for the first time that I can remember I felt pride attached to that, all of a sudden I had to put my cynicism in check- I didn't know what to do with it (and have often felt that way since then). We made our way to the intersection of U St. and 14th. The streets were full at midnight. Everyone was walking in a daze, huge smiles, muttering to themselves in disbelief, trying to digest what had happened, loving everyone else, congratulating and celebrating and incredulous. It was unreal.
Now it's September 2009. It still surprises me when I watch a newsclip of Obama speaking and realize that it's all true, that this was really possible. Is it?