It was really my acupuncturist’s fault.
“Do you think,” she said at my last appointment, “there will be some kind of spontaneous demonstration if Obama is elected?”
“Probably,” I said. “I bet it’ll be downtown. At the Capitol.”
“I think there’s going to be some kind of big demonstration if Obama wins,” I told my husband later that day. “Probably downtown. We’ve got to go. We can’t miss it.”
The minute I mentioned it, I could see us — whooping it up, line dancing, drinking, hugging, screaming. Part of a happening, a movement. Just like the Sixties, kind of.
“Sounds great,” he said.
Election day came. I tried to work. I avoided the TV set. We made frito chili pie, since that had been instrumental in the Democrats’ victory in 2006. Also because it’s easy.
People came and went at our house. We ate and drank beer and wine and fought over the remote control. Every time my back was turned, one of our friends, John, grabbed the remote control and turned the channel to some station I didn’t like. I snatched it back and he apologized. Five minutes later, he’d be hogging it again and I’d have to wrestle it out of his hands. Hadn’t he ever heard of property owner’s rights? I guess not.
“There’s going to be a demonstration downtown,” I told everybody. “I heard about it from my acupuncturist. She hears lots of rumors. True rumors, I mean.”
We’d go to it, we all agreed.
Hours passed. States were tallied up. It was looking good. Finally, Obama was declared the winner. We jumped up and down and sang and broke out the champagne and toasted and hugged.
According to the TV, spontaneous demonstrations were breaking out around the country, around the world.
“Are we going downtown?” my husband asked. Most people had already left. I had the feeling they weren’t headed downtown. Around us, there were dirty dishes and half-eaten food and empty glasses.
We cleaned up the kitchen and drank the last few drops of champagne. I watched more TV news, since it wouldn’t be healthy to go cold turkey on election night and I couldn’t quite let go yet.
“Do you want to go downtown?” I asked him.
So, of course, we didn’t go. That’s the trouble with being this age: You still have ideas and plans and grand enthusiasms. But your body can’t quite keep up. Or, if you do make the effort, you know you’ll pay big time in the morning. Will it be worth it? Are you sure?
We went to bed and fell asleep. Around us, the world was celebrating a seismic change with screams and fireworks and tears. When I woke up, I could still see the faces I’d seen on TV — those joyous smiles and cheeks flooded with tears. I could feel my own eyes fill up, just thinking about it.
So you don’t always go downtown for spontaneous celebrations when you reach a certain point in your life. But that doesn’t mean you don’t feel it every bit as strongly when something remarkable happens in the world.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)