Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Our salve (salvation?)

I had a headache yesterday from about 5 pm until I went to sleep after 1 am. I couldn't do a thing at work--aside from look at hoping vainly for updates that were far too early to come. That and listen to Yes We Can over and over again. And talk to coworkers about the evening's probable, hopeful outcome.

But here's the thing: I was in a great mood. I was excited until I was tired. For weeks I'd imagined how the evening would play out: with (oh please oh please) a victory giving way to me finally allowing myself to acknowledge the too-good-to-be-true happiness that had been welling up with each promising poll. And imagining that happiness, that this is too good to be true but it is nonetheless. And my shoulders would relax and I would stop holding my breath.

It turns out, though, that watching the win was a slow, hard-earned process. Was Virginia going to disappoint, were the polls wrong? ALL the polls? And so we watched and waited and my shoulders were up by my ears and my head felt fuzzy and pounded. California came not as a surprise but a relief all the same. And a leap toward 270. And then we got it. And Virginia was the one to put us over the top. Our henceforth purple Commonwealth. God bless.

And my head was still fuzzy and instead of the cathartic weight being lifted, pulling the smile from ear to ear, the much anticipated wash of relief didn't come. Another weight, the weight of transformational reality settled around, trying to get into my head, my heart. And as we watched Lewis and Jackson the tears found their way out and the truth sort of got in, but it's still not in, not all the way.

But I don't mind. I look forward to the full realization. Because, guess what, people? This news is good. I kept thinking last night about other galvanizing events, things that brought people out of their homes and caused them to share raw emotion and the list of events was bad, bad, bad. Watching our first African-American US President last night, welcoming our first Black First Family, what crossed my mind is our nation is sharing this historic event. We are participants and witnesses, not victims. Because this: our coming-together was not to share a tragedy. This was not a terrorist attack, this was not a natural disaster that pulled a city from our map, this was not some crazy killer staining Blacksburg and taking all those innocent kids' lives. No. This, this event that had us all tuned in, all watching was happy and positive and good. Truly good.

And maybe realizations like that don't come like simple happiness, a perfunctory drop of the shoulders. They come through a slideshow of what we've seen and what we see may be different. It comes as promise. It comes as a salve.

He did not say, "If you're not with us, you're against us." He said, "I'm your president, too."

And all I kept thinking was it's such a shame this good news isn't good for everyone. I hope and believe that, in time, for most people, it will be. Because he's our president. The whole country's. And we all have a lot of work to do.

Feeling much love, much humility and indeed much gratitude.

Love to all,

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I voted! I voted!

Armed with my (California) driver's license, voter registration form, voter registration card, mail to my current (sister's) address in Virginia from the following: bank, credit card company, health insurance, pay stub from VA employer and retirement account company. I was DETERMINED to get to vote.

Armed with my wad of I-live-and-pay-taxes-in-this-commonwealth evidence, I stepped up to the booth. She was like, "Your voter card alone is sufficient." "Oh, okay, here you go," fumbling to remove the card from its envelope and purse in one hand, wad in the other, with my new voter permit pass in between two fingers I was directed around the check in station into the actual voting room. Nary a line to be found. The beauty of showing up at 9:45.

It was very exciting choosing Obama-Biden, and Warner and Moran. And voting to maintain our parks. And getting the sticker. And the free cup of coffee from Starbucks because of the sticker.

I love that we can choose our leaders. Especially when the leaders I choose become the leaders. Yes We Can!

I'll be doing cheerleading jumps in my office if any of you need me.

Hope you're voting is as easy and fun.