The night before Election Day, both Chris and I slept fitfully and then got up early to vote. A little before 6 am we walked around the corner to the place where we voteâ€”a Mexican restaurant with amazing chicken burritos and a kind of janky signâ€”and there was a line already, almost to the end of the block, waiting for the doors to open.
We went back there for dinner later that night, after the polls had closed and it was a mostly empty restaurant again. We had the chicken burritos and every now and then checked the TV in the corner to see how the electoral votes were doing. It was a Spanish-language station but of course all you needed to see were the numbers, and Obama’s were already in the hundreds.
We were short on sleep and nursing cruddy colds and worn out from the constant effort of trying to live an ordinary day on Election Day. We didn’t go to Grant Park. We wanted to be home when it happened, and as we sat on the couch switching the channels from one big garish map to another, it happened sooner than we thought, sooner and even more perfectly than I’d ever thought in my most audaciously jinxy thoughts.
After a few minutes I got up and stepped out on the back porch to see if I could hear horns honking or people cheering or any sign that this thing had really happened, but the neighborhood was quiet. I went back to the couch and our laptops and sat there while Obama’s win became more and more real on every screen I looked at. And then we finally sat still and watched the speech. And that was it!Â It feels so strange to feel proud and thrilled of a president, and also to think of him as a president and not the just the guy who won for the blue team.
All the same, I was exhausted this whole week and somehow Barack Obama did not cure my stupid cold. And while I know I got a little teary Tuesday night, it wasn’t until Friday when I was home sick that I really felt what happenedâ€”and I was happy he’d won, yes, but I also couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the thought of how much was at stake (is still at stake) and how we wouldn’t be feeling joy and relief of this magnitude if we didn’t also sense, on some level, how unprecedentedly screwed-up this country as become. I thought I knew how awful it all was (how awful it still is) but I didn’t understand it emotionally until this week, when I have been just wrung out by gladness. And so for a little while I cried and coughed, and then I went back to sleep. But it feels like things are getting better, my cold and everything else.
Also, and this is sort of a little thing and sort of not: while I’ve never been one to romanticize the First Family, I am extremely heartened to think that in a few months’ time the “American Princesses” will be these two beautiful little girls who are not white or blond or licensed Disney characters.Â I can’t help but think that will good for six-year-old daughters everywhere.
Anyway, hello, and how are you?