Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama

I've had all day to think about the enormity of what just happened and I want to explain what it looked like through my eyes last night. I was at a tiny bar in NYC called Cafe Amrita at 110th (Central Park North) and Frederick Douglass Boulevard. The bar was packed with Obama supporters and we were watching election results on the big screen like it was the Superbowl. And in a way, it was.

Everyone was eating and drinking and smiling and introducing themselves to each other. When CNN started calling individual states, the cheering started. Then the hugging and the dancing. And when CNN announced PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA... the crying began. I didn't expect to cry. I had to call my parents. The text messages flooded in. People came pouring into the bar from the street to watch the historic event. And finally we were quiet. And we listened. And we went inside ourselves and found hope we didn't know we had.

Every single person there stopped and stared at the television screen with tears in their eyes. Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, older people, younger people, people with accents, people with money, people with not too much... we just listened. We listened as John McCain took the stage in Phoenix and graciously and respectfully conceded to Barack Obama. As he finished his speech, the crowd of Barack Obama supporters in that tiny bar rose and cheered John McCain.

Then Barack took the stage, and we watched. And we were quiet. And we listened. And we witnessed history. And we will never forget. Grant Park in Chicago looked like a rock concert. Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza were out of control. Harlem was a love-fest.

And now nothing will ever be the same again. Our children and grandchildren will grow up in a world where nothing is impossible.

My dad took my sister and I to see the troops come home from Desert Storm. I was young and I understood their sacrifice and I cried then. Now I am older, and I understand Barack's road to this victory, and I cried those same tears last night. I wish I could bottle those tears and show them to my children and my grandchildren someday.

For them, the stories and photos and newspapers will have to suffice. We are the lucky ones. We were a part of this change, and that is no small thing. In fact, it's bigger than any of us can imagine. If the enormity of this hasn't hit you yet, be still. Be quiet. Be proud. We were a part of this. Barack Obama has proven that anything... ANYTHING... can happen.

After Barack gave his speech, I'll never forget what my new friend Eli said about the people in the bar and the people pouring in from the street. He said, "Wow, people are talking to each other." And I looked around, and they were. Strangers were embracing, dancing, cheering, chatting. There was an energy in the air like electricity. Like an oxygen supply. I wanted to keep breathing it in.

There were a lot of tears today. I had to stop reading the newspaper on the train because the words started to blur.

This is truly momentous. Drink it in.

Yes we can, America... and we did.


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