Where All the Lights Are Bright

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.

“Kind of.”

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)

2 comments… add one
  • I hear you, on this one.  I had dreams of driving to Chicago – about an eight-hour-drive with a leadfoot – and whooping it up in Grant Park.  But hubby was worried that if Obama _didn’t_ win, things could get ugly and a riot might ensue. 

    In my younger days, the prospect of a riot – while not thrilling – wouldn’t have been enough to dissuade me.  I’d already been maced and seen hippies clubbed with nightsticks during anti-war protests during the Vietnam War.  Why, I’d even gathered together about 32 “close friends” and asked my parents if I could visit them in the metro D.C. area and bring “a few friends” with me, so that we could attend the massive Vietnam War protest in D.C.  (To their credit, they didn’t slam the door in my face when they saw the unwashed masses in their front yard.)

    I was quite “adaptable” then.  (Never really thought of this until you brought it up!)  But, the thought of riots in Chicago made me hesitate.  I began to think of hubby’s already-broken-once back.  About the fact that it would be nice to have new glasses so that I could _see_ if I needed to be fleet of foot and run.  Where would we park our two dogs, who do not like change.  I wouldn’t be able to blog!  Suddenly, watching TV began to sound like a really good idea. 

    Did I feel twinges of regret when I saw the triumphant crowd in Chicago?  Yep.  But the reality is, it’s more comfortable here.

  • How true!…”the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (And weakening as we speak.) But oh the sheer joy of seeing Obama elected. Never mind the money, machinery, manipulations, etc. that were behind the process. Ultimately, it will be Obama himself who proves to the USA and the world that “our time is now.”

    As I wrote to my two sisters, now living in the USA as permanent residents….”I watched non-stop from 7pm until just now (midnight)…I think he will be a magnificent president…His links to Kenya are so symbolic…incredible historical event…mind boggling to imagine the repercussions of his election around the world…”

    My sister wrote back asking if there was a “green card application in my future”. I replied, “Rather than a green card.(or a red card or a blue card)..I would just like to see the border eliminated between Canada and the US, and instead of red states and blue states and the true north strong and free, we become a United North American …UNA…”

    Makes me proud to be a neighbour of the country that will once again be able to declare itself the greatest country in the world…not the cleanest, not the safest, not the most prosperous at the moment…but…Obama may even change all that…

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