Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We did it!

I cannot believe it! Barack Obama will be the new president of the United States!

This is an amazing historic moment and it is hard for me not to be emotional about it. Yesterday, there was so much anticipation about the election results - I was antsy all day long. I went to vote at my polling location in the morning and was surprised to walk right in, with no wait. Afterward, I chatted with a few of the parents running a PTA bake sale. All of us were energized and excited - but nervous too - about the election. After that, I walked to work in a happy mood. I love going to the polls, voting alongside my neighbors and sensing a strong sense of community.

Beyond my immediate community, I communicated with friends from faraway places too. During the day, Vic and a friend in Nigeria had an IM conversation about the election. Another friend in England left a comment on my Facebook wall: "I trust your fellow Americans will not let the rest of us down this time!" Last week, during our trip to Toronto, a family friend told us he supported Obama. "American needs a big change," he said. It was amazing to see that it was not just Americans paying attention to this election - the world was watching.

Vic and I watched the election results on TV with a Pakistani American buddy. He turned to me when Barack Obama took the stage and said, "Lisa, we just elected our first black president! Now the door is open for people like us too. Maybe there will be an Asian American president some day." When the rest of the family came to join Obama on stage, Zaid noted the multicultural representation and said, "This is America."

I called my friend Claire several times during the evening. She had been volunteering as a poll observer all day long and was just driving home when I called to tell her that Ohio chose Obama. We couldn't believe it. I stayed up through McCain's wonderful, inspiring concession speech and Obama's eloquent speech and then went to sleep emotionally exhausted.

This morning, Vic woke up Nico to tell him the news. Nico was thrilled. After all, he was the one who advocated getting an Obama Biden sign for our yard. (Despite Vic's initial resistance, he eventually relented, especially after Nico argued, "I want it waaaaaay more than you DON'T want it!") When my mom came over to take care of Nolan for the day, Nico said to her, "Ama! I am super happy! Barack Obama is our first black president! I am so happy!" Nico watched some of the coverage on TV and Vic had to explain to him why some people were crying.

On my walk to work, I called my friend Audrey. She and I had a happy, tearful conversation: "We did it! I can't believe it!" Although she was born and raised in Cleveland - in fact, she was my first American friend when we moved here from Canada more than 30 years ago - she lives in Chicago now. She was my first black friend and is an inspiration to me for her strength, determination and focus. She attended the Grant Park rally last night, as I had expected, and described it as "electrifying".

At work today, there was a wonderful, palpable feeling of optimism. In person, through emails and via Facebook wall posts, my friends and I celebrated the ushering in of a new era. For Zaid, a Pakistani American, Gina, an African American, me, a Taiwanese American, and my children, a mix of several glorious cultures, we are ecstatic that our country has shattered a wall, leaving behind a long, painful past of oppression and injustice. Although this election will not erase racism and discrimination, it is a great start.

We are all proud Americans today!


T-Rot said...

I totally support the cause and the president-elect, but I can no way support signage in the yard. The lawn is sacred and not to be adorned with essentially large pieces of flair ;)

Anonymous said...

Unless that flair is a Knome or a pink flamingo!

Michele said...

I love everything you write!

Brenna said...

I'm with you about loving the process of going to the polling place and voting with your neighbors.

That said, there's a reason you were able to walk right in with no waiting. Early voting. I can tell you that at the precinct I spent the day poll-watching, over one-third of all eligible voters had already cast a ballot before election day.

I'm now a fan of voting by mail. You can sit down with your ballot and a glass of wine, go through at your leisure, and email your better-informed friends with questions about obscure down-ballot races, and take your sweet time filling out the ballot. It kinda rocks.