Isn't it beautifully appropriate.....

that we celebrate the man today, whose dream will be so much closer to being fulfilled tomorrow?

Sometimes life is incredibly poetic.

I am so excited.

A couple of months ago, I woke up on a beautiful Fall day. The sky was intensely blue, the sun was shining brightly and the air just vibrated with excitement, possibility and joy. It was a special day.

As I drove home from dropping Finny at school, I knew I could not just go home. I had so much pent up energy and excitement. I turned my car around as I decided I would drop by the Obama campaign office to see if I could be of any more assistance at this late stage.

Nobody in there was resting on their laurels, there was surely no premature celebrating. All systems were full steam ahead. I was enthusiastically welcomed. I took my place at a crowded table in a little back room and grabbed a cell phone and a list. To my right was an old man, a war veteran. To my left was an old man who was gay, across from me, there was a young African-American woman, down the table a little way a middle aged, professional white woman sat. The table next to us was laden with donated food from restaurants and also just individuals who had baked up a batch of muffins to keep everyone going. I imagine they were feeling as I was. They had to do something. They wanted to be a part of this.

We enjoyed an hour or two of camaraderie as we worked our way down the list. Most of the people enthusiastically affirmed that they had already voted. One hard of hearing old man bellowed down the phone that yes, he had already voted, and it was for "the coloured guy". I recounted his response to the table and as we laughed nervously about the very un-PC nature of his comment, it struck me that this was actually something really special. Clearly, here we were seeing a presidential candidate who was being judged by "the content of his character and not by the colour of his skin". That old man was clearly not hip, he was not young, PC, cool or swayed by the media or Hollywood. He was a man who saw another man whom he believed would lead our country well. And he voted for him. A dream was fulfilled.

It was just the most magical day. To be honest, I had never felt a sense of belonging in America until that day. I was always very aware that I was a foreigner. I felt alienated (haha punny) at patriotic events, accepted but always somewhat of an outsider. But that day I belonged.

My hopes represented the hopes of people all over the world. Being South African for once made me feel even more of a kinship for the Americans who were hoping along with me. That night as I saw the footage of Africans celebrating with the unbridled joy that only Africans can celebrate with, I felt such a sense of one-ness, that night we were one world.

As I shared the evening with my sister on the phone in Australia, anxiously waiting as the numbers from each state came in, I felt as though the whole of Australia was rooting for us too (and by all accounts, they were). At one time when my sister had to reluctantly hung up to take a bathroom break, the numbers for Ohio came in, and I knew the deal was sealed. I called her and shrieked the news at her secretary. "OHIO! WE WON OHIO! It's done! It's done!" I was pretty much incoherent, I'm not even sure she knew who I was. "Oh brilliant!" she responded enthusiastically. We were all one world.

I had started that night really quite sick, at 6pm I was lying on the couch, coughing my head off and I sounded "at death's door" according to my sister. But as the hours went on, the adrenaline kicked in and I was dancing, laughing, screaming, running through the house like a lunatic and jumping up and down. My kids were quite bemused. I'm fairly sure they have never seen that sort of performance from me before, *(including the post traumatic stress dance I did that one time I inexplicably set off a mouse trap that I had no idea had been set underneath my kitchen sink, containing a dead mouse. Yes, I don't know how it is possible to set off a trap that had already caught a mouse, but I did, and it got my finger, and much therapy ensued.)

Along with the laughing and the running and the jumping and the screaming was the crying. When I called my dad in South Africa to wake him with the news, I was once again incoherent, hiccoughing through my happy tears. He told me that the radio had woken him up with the words "President Obama". We were one world. The happy crying continued for several days thereafter every time I realized it had not been a dream after all.

That night as Aaron and I sat quietly, almost reverently watching Obama's acceptance, it was not a sense of victory or the brilliant speech we were reveling in. It was the unity, the miraculous unity. The old, the young, the black, the white, the rich, the poor standing literally shoulder to shoulder, faces glowing with hope. Like everyone else, when the camera panned to a weeping Jesse Jackson (who frankly doesn't generally move me) , I like everyone else I'm sure, was undone. In that face, I think we were reminded of the unbelievable struggle and sacrifice of the civil rights movement, and what an unthinkably miraculous moment this was in light of where we had so recently been.

It is my prayer that the sense of global unity will only increase as President Obama takes on a country in chaos. I pray that we will be patient and realistic, but that the sense of hope and optimism will remain. I pray that he will be fortified to deal with all that he will be required to do. I'm not sure if any mere mortal man has ever had so much pressure of so many different varieties placed upon him all at the same time. He will definitely need the help of the Lord. I pray that he will seek it, be worthy of it, and trust it at all times.

And tomorrow, I am hoping that I get that all one world feeling again. Because unity, my friends, is just the coolest, wouldn't you agree?

*Warning: the the following collage contains images of unbridled and at times, unattractive, elation. Viewers are cautioned.


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5 comments:

Aaron said...

Beautifully written, Babe. Reminds me of excitement of everyone both black and white in South Africa at the time of Mandela's inauguration.

It's a huge moment in history.

love you,

Aaron

Shona said...

It will forever be one of those days where you will remember where you were, what you were doing and who you were with. So I am really glad that I got to share it with you.

I know that we were feeling exactly the same way, that we both cried and celebrated at the same moments and that we both had a deep sense of the significance of the day, not only for America but for the World and for Humanity.

I agree - the sense of Unity was the key. It gave hope for what the world COULD experience if we all worked together, and I guess in that sense Obama has already fulfilled his election promise.

Tooj said...

Hi, I haven't finished reading all of this post (YET - it's long! LOL) but I wanted to note before I get called away for mommy duties that I clicked on you through the 4 Kennedys and a Dog blog. I loved what you had to say about her political post today. I had it all written out in my head what I wanted to say, but I read the comments first and yours said it all for me. So thank you. And although I think some people won't "get" how we feel about this occasion, I find it inspirational when I see people like you who DO understand how I feel. So thanks! That's all I had to say, but it got quite long.

Jen Lynn said...

He gave a pretty rockin' speech today. I'm impressed. I even got a little teary eyed at one point, I must admit.

Toad said...

I haven't read the whole thing either, but I LOVE the video of the South Africans dancing and singing in the street. They have such a way. How'd you find that?