Sunday, February 1, 2009

President Obama

Somewhere around 1968 I despaired of this country. Then in 1972 it seemed everything could change - and it didn't. All these years I've plugged away for fine candidates and (usually) watched my worst nightmares come true. The last eight years the worst of my life as a citizen.

By Inauguration Day I had stopped grieving over Hillary. Suddenly everything I had ever imagined stood in front of me.

I developed a new fascination with the transfer of power. I hadn't heard of the tradition of the outgoing president leaving a handwritten message for the new one (subject of a mean and funny SNL routine last night). I though about the children and longed to see Michelle Obama's inauguration dress in the Smithsonian. I hit the White House website at least twice a day.

Now I wake early to NPR and listen for the good news of the day. Guantanamo closing. No torture, no secret prisons. Abortion gag rule gone, Freedom of Information Act restored. Stem cell research funded. Lily Ledbetter's bill signed (and she danced with the president at the ball). The word "science" said out loud. What will happen tomorrow?

It had never occurred to me that the evils of the Bush administration could be undone.

I read the latest New Yorker, clipped the article about Obama and John Lewis, and tucked it inside my own copy of Taylor Branches' "Parting the Waters".

The latest alumnae bulletin came in the mail and I cried over the image of my fellow Columbia graduate, Barack Obama.

In today's New York Times, Bruce Springsteen spoke about the imagined land he had been singing about for 40 years. "And so on election night it showed its face, for maybe, one of the first times in adult life... I sat there on the couch and my jaw dropped and I went, 'Oh my God, it exists,' Not just dreaming it. It exists, it's there, and if this much of it is there, the rest of it's there. Let's go get that. Let's go get it. Just that is enough to keep you going for the rest of your life. All the songs you wrote are a little truer than they were a month of two ago."

And tonight Bruce and the whole extended E Street Band did an entire Springsteen concert in 12 minutes. Nothing missing. It was aerobic - raised my pulse to 160 in a second and kept it there long after the set ended and the fireworks faded.

Everything is differnet now.

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