This week has been one for ups and downs. It had a sort of a first day of school feeling when you're a kid. You know what I mean. The anticipation of the new experiences culminating in a day of new clothes and a new teacher, then the following days of afterglow and the settling down with the knowledge that you're not a baby anymore you're seven and you're going to go to school with the big kids and carry a book bag and lunch because you're going to be there all day. Or you're in the sixth grade where they have mini classes now because you're older and can learn more stuff and you can pick what you want to learn and you can run in the big kids playground instead of the little kids playground where they have the little swings and the merry go round.
Dreaming. It does amazing things. There are these dreams you have of a world where people are kind to each other and there is no want. Then you are let loose in the world and find that such dreams are difficult to make true. There are people out there who want power and don't care who they leave behind for it. You grow sour as you find more and more injustices done. It doesn't matter to whom the injustice is done. You work and you dream and try your damndest to do right and at night when you're exhausted you feel like it's for nothing. And as you lay in your bed you wonder if it was all worth it. Why bother? No one gives a damn for the poor and disinfranchised. No one cares for the family working hard just to make ends meet and ensure a safe and healthy life for their children. No one cares for the small business that wants to do something different in the world instead of being another franchise slot in a strip mall.
Then you wake up in the morning and think if I give up now what will it mean for all the work I've done in the past? What meaning will it have? Did I make a difference? Maybe not in the large part of the world, but there was the smile in the young mother's face when she got the blanket for her baby. There was the relief in the eyes of the store owner when the loan came through. There was hope in the spirit of the child who wants to go to college.
This is the optimism that rose from the country on Tuesday.
I'm watching with a cautious eye the transition that will be happening over the coming weeks. Unlike some who cast their vote with Obama freely, I was not sure which I would choose. I loathed the Bush administration, but was not so much a Democrat supporter that I would not look at what the Republican party offered. In some ways I liked McCain. He was one of the dissenters during the Gingrich and New Republican revolution in the nineties. He was more a fiscal conservative than a social conservative. Granted there were some stands he had I didn't like, but he didn't ride on those as much as his being willing to compromise with Democrats on other issues. Sarah Palin's nomination as running mate cemented my decision.
Of the Democrats, I liked John Edwards and was saddened by his philandering behind his wife's back. I felt Obama needed another four years under his belt before taking the plunge into the presidency. Hillary had too much baggage to be electable. So when Obama was nominated, I was reluctant to cast my vote for him.
During the final weeks of the election, I listened briefly to both sides but kept myself from getting sucked into the fray. I don't want to sound like I was being noble. I just didn't want to listen to the arguments. I heard and saw enough from both sides though to make my decision. So I cast my vote and waited.
Tuesday night TV offered two non-election options for me: a special "Dirty Jobs" or a marathon of "House MD." At that point I was tired of the election rhetoric and brouhaha, so opted for House. Nothing like watching how to not treat a patient to make my evening. I would flip to CNN periodically to see what the standings were but didn't expect the results to come in until later that evening after they started counting the western states.
At 8:05 pm I heard bangs. Fireworks. On election day? I had never heard fireworks on election day. Have you? Sure enough I went outside and saw neighbors shooting off rockets into the night sky. My next door neighbor was letting out a whoop from his porch. Obama had been declared the winner and the place was celebrating. I turned on CNN and sure enough there it was in blue and red. Ohio, Florida, and Illinois had been counted and predicted to go Obama's way. With the Eastern states down to Virginia (who didn't have a final tally until late in the evening) it was enough to send Obama to the White House. All I thought was that we had witnessed history being made and with such a mandate that I couldn't but think of the work that so many had done in the past. He was voted as a man who happened to be black. Yes there are those who voted for him because of the color of his skin, but you can't tell me that that was the only reason. He said the right things at the right time and ran an excellent campaign. And the people answered, "Yes."
So now I'm waiting. I still have my druthers about how effective he will be. The people he chooses will make the most difference. He will need to assure the country that he will not tax us with programs. He will need to heal the country's standing with the rest of the world. Finally, he will need to heal this country itself from the strife caused by sixteen years of partisan politics. I hope he will fulfill some of our dreams.