Restored vision – first my own and now my country’s. I don’t know how many miracles I can take in one month.
3 a.m. and Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter is describing his evening at Chicago’s Grant Park to MSNBC’s Chris Jansing while I am trying to collect my thoughts, to focus on where I want to go with this.
There is so much to express.
I am thinking of an onion or those little Russian babushka nesting dolls. Eight years of a Bush presidency, and one would have to peel away layer upon layer or reveal one inside the other to fully reveal the scandals, the hypocrisy, the incompetence which have held us in their grip for so long. I do not want to go there tonight.
We have just been spared a packing of the Supreme Court of the United States which would have led our nation along a narrow path for decades to come after abolishing so much attained by generations past.
Thoughts enter my mind of Sarah Palin whipping crowds into frenetic nationalism with silly slurs against the opposition. I tell myself these people are Americans who love their country and, after all, only want for it what I do. I pray we can pull together.
I picture Atlas with the world upon his shoulders and hope our new president has the strength to hold up under such a burden and the wisdom to know where to start the healing.
Tonight when Barack Obama was declared the victor in this interminable presidential bid – at 11 p.m. ET – I stepped quietly onto my front porch and heard the cheering and the clapping and the crying of my African-American neighbors next door and up and down the way. Their collective passion swelled within me, and for one brief moment I could almost feel what they were feeling.
Maybe a year and a half ago I asked an African-American friend here if he knew the name Barack Obama. “He’s a black man,” I explained, “and he’s probably going to be your next president.” I had to call that friend tonight, and all I could think to say is, “Congratulations, Charlie, it’s been a long, hard fight.”
I don’t even know if I was talking about his generations past or the political activism which brought us to this moment, or both. I just knew I had to call him.
A few emails rolled in. Friends who just had to say something about this win. That they would reach out at such a significant moment touched me and seemed to validate in some small way my finite part of a bigger struggle. These thoughts subside.
As I sit here in the middle of the night, I am touched by images of the young, single mother in Apt. A, tucking her little girl into bed and the grandmother in Apt. C helping her two little granddaughters say their nighttime prayers. I try to feel what they must have felt and hear what they must have said on this night to these sweet little girls.
Having grown up a little white girl in the South, having tucked my own children into bed, having kissed them and wished them “sweet dreams,” I could not know the depth of what mother conveyed to child this night as one of their own prepared to lead a country where once the only certainty was ship’s chains and auction blocks.
One thought lingers as the night ebbs: the promise of tomorrow.