[Sorry if this is a bit disjointed, everyone — I am writing at 4 a.m., still on a high after this historic night.]
Yesterday, in the midst of voting, my mother was so overcome with a sense of history that she cried. It took me much longer to appreciate the excitement of this election. Voting itself was less than eventful — we walked one block and were out the door in 5 minutes. Later, we had dinner near the Capitol, soaking up a bit of party atmosphere as Hill staffers cheered and downed shots when key states were called. But then we went home to watch TV, with no plans beyond maybe snapping a few photos of the dog in an election tiara.
And then came Obama’s historic, amazing acceptance speech. Which left me in tears. And when our President-Elect was done speaking, somehow sitting quietly at home — even with a dog in a tiara — no longer seemed enough. So we put on our coats, grabbed the dog and an umbrella, and made a midnight pilgrimage to join the jubilant crowds gathering outside the White House.
Quite simply, I have never seen anything like tonight. Even before we reached the White House, the streets were lined with cheering pedestrians and honking drivers. Some drivers waved victory signals to the crowd. One cheering, honking driver dangled a poster of Obama out the car window. (And suddenly those accident statistics all make sense.)
The crowd outside the White House was an incredible mix of humanity. People in business suits, partying students, aging hippies, middle-aged married couples, sleeping children, journalists. The occasional dog (Zoe made friends with one fellow in a “Pugs for Obama” t-shirt). Black people and white people. People conversing in a variety of foreign languages…. The watching police seemed nervous, and in a way I can’t blame them — it was, after all, a rowdy, spontaneously formed mob directly outside the White House. But the wonder of it all was that no one seemed to have an agenda other than to marvel at the moment and to share some joy with the crowd. Some people waved flags and signs. Some beat cheers on the lampposts. A couple of random girls gave us “Hugs for Obama.” But most people just stood in the crowd, looked around, exchanged nods, grinned and maybe cheered.
I got teary again at both the spectacle and the many shades of meaning behind it. (Among other things, having a baby on the way makes every event feel that much more historic, with everything a statement on “the world our baby will be born into.”) And then we went home.