Yours, mine, and ours
Saturday November 22nd 2008, 10:22 am
Filed under: History

The guy on the phone at the San Jose Mercury News misunderstood me while I was requesting a vacation hold and jumped the gun by a day, and so, the Wednesday that we left on our trip, it felt like we had no tangible proof that there had been an actual election held the day before.  The BART tax? The city’s decades-long fights over library bonds, with the latest version on the ballot?  Had they passed?  (Extending the BART trains needed 66.67% to pass, and earlier this week it was at 66.67% with a few thousand ballots still to go. It made history as the first to ever hit that actual number dead-on before it went to the provisional and absentee ballot counting. It’s now at 67% and solid.)   Hey, Michelle, Mitchell Park Library will get its rebuild after all.  You go, girl!

But you know what I most wanted to see.  In print. In real life. To make it feel real in a way a computer screen just simply cannot do.

And so when our plane landed in Baltimore late that night, as we waited for our luggage, my sweet husband went looking for a newspaper and came back with a Washington Post, our hometown paper, and handed it to me.

And even though we all already knew, that paper made instant friends for me out of every single employee of that airport I encountered from that moment on.  Sitting in a wheelchair with it in my lap, I’d started to read but stopped almost instantly, unwilling to miss what was suddenly happening around me: people were coming closer, glancing at the headline and picture and smiling as they nodded their heads knowingly at one another.  It was amazing, watching bored, tired, semi-stony-looking faces light up and strangers treating each other as old friends: them, me, the few among those looking for their suitcases who happened to look sideways to also notice–in all the elections I’ve ever been a part of, I’ve never experienced anything like the camaraderie that this one has inspired.  That was just the start.

Coming out of Stitches, again in a chair, the best way to get to where Karen’s car was was to wheel through a hotel, and an employee rushed to get the door for us.  But before we’d reached the outer door, somehow we had all gotten into a conversation that started with his asking if there really had been a whole convention of knitters–we’d been?  There was?  He thought so!, and quickly became about the election a few days prior.

And then that black man told us two white women that the thing about the election that had struck him was that people had voted for the candidate (he didn’t have to say who) based on who he was.  “He’s such a good man,” I answered, thinking, “the content of their character” and how pleased King would be to be overhearing us speak and at how easily we had all fallen into that conversation, how easily we had all instinctively known we would be glad to be in each other’s company in that moment.  At the undercurrent of joy.

What I have needed to say and have been looking for the words for ever since has been this: yes, this country has a lot to get fixed, economically, health care, so many choices to be made re the use of money.  But we have chosen to jettison our wariness of one another.   And it shows.  We have chosen to see the best in each other across all divides as well as in choosing this one particular candidate.  The symbolism spills into a sense of goodwill that is transforming day-to-day encounters among strangers.

The Washington Post’s online edition briefly marveled the Thursday after the election that someone was hawking a pristine copy of their Special Election Edition from the day before on Ebay for $400. It was a good day to be a newspaper. They quickly printed up a bajillion collector’s copies, just as they had special-editioned my late-printed copy bought Wednesday night.

There is great pride in feeling I own a piece of this. I voted for the man.  I voted for my fellow man in a way I could only guess at and hope for before election day, but now I see it.  In real life.

8 Comments so far
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I agree, it feels SO GOOD to have been part of that vote for change! Obama cannot fix everything overnight, but I do believe he will point us in a good direction, and hopefully whomever follows him in office will continue in that direction. (In eight years, right? Give the man two terms, please!)

Thank God, THANK GOD! — the majority in this country has finally banded together and said, “Enough!”

To the future!

Comment by Paula 11.22.08 @ 10:48 am

I know I wouldn’t want to inherit the mess the country’s in, but I’m sending good thoughts in his direction that he and his advisors can accomplish good things.

Comment by Alison 11.22.08 @ 11:18 am

I’m with you all the way, Paula….Hear!!!! Hear!!!!!!!!!!:Go, Obama!!!!!!!!!

Alison, you rock!!!!

Comment by Doris 11.22.08 @ 12:38 pm

Thank you for (as my black friends would say) “representing”. Representing knitters, white ladies, articulate people of good heart, everywhere!

Comment by Barbara-Kay 11.22.08 @ 1:18 pm

He would have had my vote, had I been able to vote in the States. But this Canadian is so very pleased with the outcome, and I will celebrate in 8 days when I ge to Florida!

Comment by Sandra 11.22.08 @ 9:10 pm

It was magical, wasn’t it? That was the mood all over. We were giddy. I’ve never felt that way about an election before.

And thanks for the paper medical tape tip – now I just have to figure out what that is!

Comment by suburbancorrespondent 11.22.08 @ 9:45 pm

I voted for him also. In the days since, he has demonstrated that he will reunite this country and bring respect and admiration back to this country. For the first time in almost 8 years there is a ray of hope.

I plan on taking inauguration day off from work and celebrate and watch it on TV.

Comment by Joansie 11.23.08 @ 12:57 pm

news and information are 2 things that all human beings crave. when we lived in little villages, any and all newcomers or passers-through were grilled relentlessly to satisfy our thirst for knowledge. I am glad to see that knowledge is what won the election.

Comment by Carol 11.23.08 @ 12:59 pm

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