Friday, November 7, 2008

A Guest Post

My friend Sara sent this in an e-mail to all her friends with the preface "If I had a blog I'd post this on it, but I don't."

So I'm lending her my space.

Obama Wins

by Sara K.

I feel obliged to write my account of the events for history’s sake. Other things I’ve witnessed that I should have or did write down, they would be the WTO march in Seattle and Sept 11.

I’d been obsessively following the polls for weeks so I was pretty confident Obama would win. It’s not like I was surprised he did.

The couple of days leading up to the election and particularly the day of, I had thoughts of “I’ve got to stay alive to see this.” I took care crossing the street, making sure I’d live long enough to cast my vote.

Sandro and I cast our votes during lunch time, waiting an hour in line, during which time we realized our neighbors are mostly white and look like cool artsy Marin people. The mood in line was light hearted but serious. In line I prayed for peace and safety, and reminded myself that being born in 1912, my grandma Ruth was born before women had suffrage rights. A friend later told me of a friend, a Latino, who cried in the ballot box as he cast his vote. I checked and rechecked that I’d darkened the circle right next to Obama/Biden, and Sandro later told me he cast the vote for Obama, and then pulled the sheet out to make sure it was marked next to #10, as it was supposed to be. I guess if I had a better grasp of technology and spacial relations I would have pulled the sheet out too, rather than just staring at the dark circle I’d filled out.

And then once I cast it, and left early from work at 3:30, in order to go home and start preparing my thyme, lemon zest and polenta dish for my dinner party, and I took the bus home, I had my normal thoughts as I get off the bus. Look around, to make sure a captor can’t seize me. There comes a car approaching and stopping near me, is he stopping, or is he going to shove me in his car, where I’ll be unseen behind black out windows? (Yes, now I’ve revealed to you what a psycho I am and/or what fearful times we live in that such thoughts should cross my mind. This life as a woman). As I glanced at all the men on the street and kept my wits about me, I thought, at least I’ve voted, but now if I can just stay alive to see it.

I made it home, needless to say, and started cooking and watching TV. I had planned for weeks to make arugula salad, in a nod to one mini scandal where when Obama said he liked arugula, his detractors said that was an example of how out of touch and elitist he is.

My guests came. One of my favorites was a family friend, a woman in her 50s. She showed up with three bottles of champagne. I ended up drinking champagne with her all night, but was able to use enough restraint not to get shnockered. Being with her reminded me of parties with my mom and her friends, her reactions and comments were of a woman who lived through the 60s and is full of giddy disbelief.

It was kind of a whirlwind cuz I was cooking. (Order pizza next time?) All my obsessive research had said to watch for Indiana, if Indiana went Obama, it was over for McCain. So, funny that Indiana was one of the states not to get decided that night, and there I was looking for it as an early indicator. But I remember it being significant when Virginia came in for Obama. Me and my neighbor were screaming “Virginia!” I can’t even remember when Florida got called. That shows you what a different night it was from the past two elections, where we’ve all hung on Florida in the past, this time it was more like “Oh yeah, and Florida too.”

At 7:30 Pacific Time we were all eating my meal. The group included gays, a lesbian, immigrants, children of immigrants, and champagne drinking WASPS. This is my California, my life.

Suddenly at 8, like a freight train, the election was called. All my research had me predicting it would be called by 7:30 or 8. But it still seemed like a surprise. I hugged my champagne buddy, as we heard a cork pop of Sandro opening another, and I had a long embrace with my gay neighbor. Then I hugged Sandro. The neighbor was one of my best memories of the night. He wept. He didn’t even care that the gay marriage ban passed, saying “This is why we have to keep wearing assless chaps”.

I wanted to cry, but didn’t really have any tears. I got more emotional when Obama was nominated at his convention. I cried when he came out on the stage, followed by Biden, to see the Black man out front, and the White man in the number two position.

I regretted that I couldn’t have this event reported to me by Dan Rather. It seems like the only requirement to be a newscaster now days is to be a white male who isn’t balding. They are all so sanitized. Not like Dan during the 2000 Florida squeaker saying “This race is tighter than a swim suit in the back of a hot car on the way home from the lake” or, “Al Gore is madder than a snapping turtle!” The one moment that may seem trite but was special was the newscaster showed a poster like the kind on a fourth grade classroom wall, and how all the photos heretofore were white males. And there was Obama’s smiling face last in line. And now this will be the new normal.

Leading up to the election, I’d noticed Blacks at my work didn’t act too excited or didn’t want to talk about it too much. I think they were steeling themselves. My neighbor said a Black friend opened up to him that they were all too scared. His friend is from Virginia.

McCain conceded rather quickly, and I was thinking wickedly how now Sarah can go home and raise that baby.

Obama’s speech was sparkling, earnest and hopeful. We all watched, trying to ignore Enzo doing flips off the couch.

At work the next day, I took a coffee break with a White friend, when we were outside on the street we walked by a Black co-worker, she said “Power to the People!” and we each gave each other the black pride fist. A black woman we didn’t know on the street spontaneously gave the fist too, she thought the sister was talking to her, rather than two white people.

I read dozens of articles looking for the words, and found these: The day shimmered with history.

1 comment:

KrissyGo! said...

In Iowa our ballots had a bubble to darken next to "Democrat" or "Republican" and it would automatically cast votes for all the Ds or Rs on the sheet.


I, too, took special care and pride in darkening THE CIRCLE next to Obama/Biden. And yes, I also dwelled on my sheet, staring into the darkened area and lining it up next to his name. I lingered in the moment when I put my own hand on the wheel of history -- not as a best or brightest or some other "great" person but as a private and anonymous citizen in the entryway of a grocery store in a small Iowa town.

On election night, I was home alone. When they called it, I stood up in the middle of my living room and cried and cried.

What a wonderful, joyful alternative to the existing "where were you" historic, but tragic, moments -- 9/11, the assassinations of both Kennedys and MLK Jr.