Wow! I have to admit to getting a little teary-eyed this morning when I first heard on the radio that Barak Obama officially won (but that may have been the antibiotic eye drops I had just dripped into my red and infected eyes). I had watched the early returns on TV last night for a bit, with Obama coming in ahead, but went to bed too nervous to hope--even though that's what this campaign was about, right? Hope. But after the last two elections...
I'm almost too stunned to take in the enormity of this landslide victory (but that may be the quart of mucous clogging my head). This historic moment. It wasn't so long ago, slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, segregation. It's quite amazing really that we have come to the moment of electing an African American president. The other day, M (who is a big Obama supporter, despite his distinct Alex P. Keaton leanings) asked what country Barak Obama was from. When I explained he was from the US, M said, "But he has brown skin." Oh, boy. C and I explained that many Americans--probably close to half--have brown skin. I started hatching plans to move out of a rural corner of the whitest state in the country to somewhere a little more cosmopolitan so our children will not grow up so sheltered. "S who is Mrs. M's son has brown skin and was born in another country..." M continued. "Haiti," I supplied for him, and we looked Haiti up in the Atlas, saw it was on the same island as the Dominican Republic (another recent interest of his for some reason), and he perused the Atlas for a while, deciding he wanted to visit the Canary Islands someday, a plan with which I'm totally on board.
On Friday, when he came home from school (after I called to tell them to let him off the bus without me standing at the end of the driveway) and found my lying miserably on the couch, a spot from which I had not moved all day, except to eat a bowl of the macaroni and cheese my friend L brought over to feed E and Z because I was too sick to even conjure up lunch (Thanks L!), he looked at the book I was reading, The Shipping News, and asked what it was about. "Um, it's about a guy whose wife dies and he moves with his kids and aunt to Newfoundland and he works at a newspaper. But it was OK because the wife wasn't very nice" I didn't mention the incest and adultery that are woven through the thread of the story. "Is it a true story?" he asked. "No," I said. "It's fiction." His face lit up. "Really? I thought grownups only read non-fiction!" I showed him the word "novel" on the front cover and explained that meant "chapter-book" in adult-speak.
It's pretty amazing to be the bearer of these realizations--adults like to read (and write!) made-up stories. This country of ours is made up of more people of more different colors and kinds than you can imagine. Hope can triumph over fear. Love trumps greed. A bright future outshines a troubled past. This morning I crept into M's room and opened the curtains. "Good morning, buddy. Guess what happened yesterday?" He rubbed his sleepy eyes, looked confused. "Guess who won the presidential election?" He grinned his wide, dimpled grin, and whispered "Barak Obama."