Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Joy is Bustin'Out All Over


WOW. It was a great election day in the United States, not least here in Indiana, where we did tip it blue – YAY! (and YAY to Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, and Missouri – almost there – and the rest of those blue states, too!) Iowa – can't forget Iowa!

Thanks, Rozie, for this lovely First Family image. And Dotty, for the Obama Happy Dance poster.

Best of all, it was a great day for the far-flung family of man, from Chicago to Arizona (thank you, John McCain, for a very gracious, beautiful speech, suppressing that chorus of boos) – from Kenya to Iraq, Iceland, Papua New Guinea, Tibet, and beyond. We have all been lifted up by a man who promises to be serious and honest about his and our mutual responsibilities, from the "ground game" on up. Somber, humble, inspiring, and smart, he is able to harness the positive energy of a wide range of competent people, all of us included. (And then there is that dazzling grin.) It's that exceptional thing, a true paradigm shift.

Here are a couple of wonderful stories from my far-flung friends. From Thea's grandma, Sandy (of Thea's gift):

Our voting experience this morning was unlike any I've ever had – in line for two hours in the heart of the North Side [of Minneapolis]. It was like a huge party! People cheering, kids squirming - they even had a "Kids Vote" headquarters, and Thea got to vote before we did! What a rush!

One of our neighbors shared a wonderful quote:

Rosa sat...
Martin walked...
Barack ran....
So our kids could fly.

Barack's Grandma is hanging with the heavy hitters!

And later Sandy added:

Is this just a wonderful day! There were firecrackers going off and people cheering in the streets last night in da 'hood, which is my 'hood! It felt like fourth of July, and in many ways, it is a true fulfillment of that momentous event. Our windows were open for the warm evening air, and each time a new state was announced for Obama, we could hear our next door neighbors cheering at the tops of their lungs. And aren't we lucky to be grandparents of this new generation - THEIR time to make history!

We voted our hopes, not our fears. What a freakin' high!

And this is from Milne, who is living in France:

I am jittery; hopeful and nervous. I've probably been at this election day seven hours longer than most of you in the US. I am sitting-tight on happiness, and it's rough.

I want to tell you about a half-hour walk to my sous-prefecture this morning at 10:15. The sous-prefecture is the administration headquarters for this town, and is below (sous) the main prefecture for the region in Marseilles. I needed to go there to set in motion the annual renewal of my visitor's visa. I'm now cool with the process, no longer a newcomer.

To walk to the sous-prefecture, I cross the main street of the old town, go through a passage way, and emerge into the biggest market of the town, two parking lots that are cleared on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings for vendors' tables. The market was about half-full at that hour.

As I walked through the market, the people I passed seemed to have acquired a new language which they were speaking earnestly and seriously. It was like pig-Latin, except that words ended with o--bah-mah. Obama, pronounced the way it is said here, with each syllable given even weight. I wondered if I might be having auditory hallucinations as I took the diagonal path through the long square: I kept hearing the three baby syllables. O-ba-ma was like a soft foam rolling in, over and over, on ocean waves.

People in France and around the world wonder if the United States can overcome it's history of racism and be its best. America had always been, taxi drivers all over the world have implied to me, the place people hoped to go to become their best version of themselves. This election is fascinating for much of the world in a way a person living in the United States might not realize.

I got to the sous-prefecture office-for-visas which is in an ancient building. I took a number (053) and sat in the small waiting room with about 15 people, most from North Africa, I believe. A couple came in with their baby and sat down in another set of three seats welded together that were at a right-angle to the ones where I sat. The mother was almost knee to knee with me and looked tired.

The couple were probably in their late thirties but looked older than the usual years of child-rearing. In a the mother's arms, wrapped in a wool blanket, was a tiny, three or four-month old baby. The baby started to stir just as the family got settled. The man stood and took the baby in his arms to soothe it and relieve the mother. The man talked to the baby. He talked to it in the same new "pig-Latin", the same sea foam, soft, even syllables. "O-bah-ma," he said into the baby's gaze and clucked little sounds to him. The baby's name was Obama.

I have a feeling there will be a lot of baby Obamas born, the world over. Today, a moment of international celebration and hope, of tangible progress made in the name of democracy. Breathe deeply and enjoy the sense of wondrous relief, reward, and exhilaration!

2 comments:

hoping for better things said...

Thanks for the story of Baby Obama at the sous-prefecture.

Jo said...

A soft foam, rolling in,
over and over,
on ocean waves.

Beautiful~ Thank you to Milne!