Frank Rich’s Op-Ed in this morning’s paper, It Still Felt Good The Morning After, is a beautifully written look at how the election’s change effects us emotionally. The morning after the election I was in my writing class. Someone brought in cookies, lemonade, twizzlers: that was our way of celebrating. Our professor that morning made us write, first thing. Made us sit down and put our emotional morning after thoughts on paper. Below the jump is what I wrote. I feel like I have to warn you before you read it, that it is very much of that moment in time, I don’t think I would have written the same thing today but it captures what I was feeling. That day before I had woken up early, thrown on some clothing and walked the two blocks from my parents house to a local church. I stood in line overwhelmed with the feeling that something substantial was happening, that democracy was beautiful. I voted, left, ran into an old co-worker in line on my way out, bought some banana bread at the church’s bake sale, went home, had some tea, watched a couple episodes of Slings & Arrows, packed my stuff, met up with a friend for an early lunch, got on the bus, went home, had dinner and waited, watched, celebrated. All of that influenced what I wrote.
Nov. 5, 2008 9:30 am
I am proud. I am proud of my county, not something I have said with frequency. I am proud of my friends. So many gave up jobs and devoted their lives, some for a year or more, to make change happen. I am proud of Virginia. I will never look down on you with disdain again.
I wish I could have spent one more night in DC. Celebrated the election in Chocolate City. Stood on the corner of 14th and U with the throngs and with you. Walk down 16h street to the white house, a similar walk to the one on that wet day in 2005 when we marched from Malcolm X park to the parade site. Walking down 16th street we felt united in our depression and fear. We stopped for a moment in front of the planned parenthood building. People were leaning out the windows cheering the protesters on. Tears starting to run down our cold faces: what if in 4 years planned parenthood no longer existed? We kept on marching and soon were face to face with those celebrating the Inauguration. Cowboy hats, fur coats, and boots, they looked like parodies of themselves. I stood stunned. I joined in the chanting but mainly was just still, sad. One cowboy hat-ed, fur coat wearing man walked by me and said to us “why don’t you just go home?” I started screaming, “Why don’t you?! This is my home. I live less than a mile from here. We donn’t want you.” Or maybe I screamed that inside of me. I cried the five blocks to my house later that day then sat in front of the TV wrapped in a towel, thawing, disappointed that the news coverage of our protest was so minor.
Oh DC. District of Columbia, poor un-represented yet tax paying city, home of my heart and soul. How different you will be this January 20. How shining you will feel. Smiles will abound, protests will be minor. Maybe a handful of people bused in. DC will be able to breath again: 93% voted for Obama. 93% at least, of the people will be relieved. I wish I could be there. I know you will be filled with Inauguration Balls. In fact, many of you my dear friends will be attending. Then after late back to bars, after parties, laughing, drinking, dancing, loving. I will be in NY, I’m guessing, starting my second semester, reading your tweets, your status updates, wishing I could be there.
My city you have my heart and it’s no longer broken. It’s wary, we don’t know what will happen in the next four years, never do. But in Obama’s speech he spoke of sacrifice and hard work and I love that honesty. We are not saved, we have been handed a chance. I hope the next four years will change how America consumes, change our sense of entitlement, change how we view those who are less fortunate. Give us a chance to help others and see the world get better. I like that. And maybe, just maybe, with Obama as president and a democratic majority in the house and senate maybe just maybe voting rights can be back on the table, statehood back on the table. Maybe it’s a dram only but wouldn’t it be amazing if the people in my city’s voices could be heard.
It’s hard to imagine others can understand what it’s been like to live in a city where the main business is the polar opposite of the people’s wishes. We feel like we are living under a dictatorship. It is not our democracy. And to finally have the business reflect our views, reflect out lives, well, it’s beyond rebirth. The chains have been released and I so with I could have been there to celebrate with you. Four years ago I wanted dancing in the streets but ended up with my heart broken instead. This year the dancing occurred but I wasn’t there for it. And as much as I love Harlem, and felt a thrill last night on the streets it wasn’t the same. I wanted to be with you. Did you miss me city? Was there a Hannah-sized absence? I’ll return, four years, reelection perhaps? I will be there, not the same, so much will have changed, but still. And if statehood/voting rites happen before then, I’m on a bus, pronto. Celebrating in the streets anxious to cheer “no more taxation without representation.” *
*DCist had a posting on how the new Senate would vote on DC Voting Rights, if you are interested in the topic. The post also used a photo germy took at last year’s Voting Rights March.
Also, I got pretty angry taking a look at this Nov 5 New York Times article about how Washington will change. I hate that people have no concept what the city of DC is actually like. The people of DC are not all involved in the government, and though we may be more aware, and know more people involved, we are not flipped from conservative to liberal based off of who’s in power. We are liberal. Really, 93% to DC residents voted for Obama, NY was only in the mid-80’s. So stop misrepresenting a whole city based solely on the government.