this week. tuesday, november 4.
versus the rest of the week, and the year.
it’s not change. change is not like that. i don’t feel more triumphant these days. maybe i feel nicer: because since wednesday morning i’ve probably smiled non-stop at work, my cheeks hurt, plastered in a rictus. sometimes it goes down cause i’m tired, but reappears in the instant of interaction: i thank everyone for everything. i get teased and complimented on my smile. but there is not an abruptness to it, as in yesterday i was sad today i’m happy. i’m probably not even happier: i „knew” we were going to win before, right? and obama is still guarded by the secret service and basically under threat non-stop, right? and victories fizzle out, and ok, maybe this is a short honeymoon but we all know what happens to honeymoons.
i’m not sure if people (and which people) expect an account from me on what i did and felt on that night, the cnn projections, the crowds. it’s simple: i don’t know what i felt. it was good because i could scream. i screamed a lot. in the yaletown brewery i positioned myself at the bar, under the screen, in a completely full room. in non-fiction i spent the last hour of the course with nadia’s laptop on my knees, after kinda announcing i wouldn’t be participating in the workshop. i let loose, and it was good while it lasted. but i was noticing myself doing what i assumed was expected of me. i noticed myself gasping, facebooking people from the bar, jumping sites to check maps, yelling stuff about senate races, talking to americans, hugging the only kenyan in yaletown (who, of course, was tearing up) but it was ok, because. we were winning. why not?
my voice almost went, and it was raining. after 4 beers, on the skytrain, the science world lights swung by dangerously close, and i was alone. who is the ‘we’ in yes we can, yes we did? downtown vancouver knew there was a president-elect obama, and they kept on their way to clubs, they kept walking in groups, soberly, chattering lightly. no one outside of yaletown jumped up or embraced someone next to them. and when i asked for directions, with my delirious eyes, and my smile, they didn’t even smile back. i wanted to put my tongue out at them, or take a stick and beat them. i knew in DC people were shouting at the white house gates, i knew in grant park they were trying to prolong the moment, later i saw youtubes of dancing in the streets in seattle. running on commercial in the rain, to sonja’s, i wanted to be in the US. (*not then: in general. it’s the US that i want – in the good moments and the bad). then a guy selling books under an arcade (at 11 :)), and i couldn’t help myself and asked. „you know obama won?” and he said yes, and nooded at me smiling, finally. a group was coming down and they cheered and gave me a high-five. further – empty. a girl on a bike passed by and looked at me and mouthed ‘obaaamaa’, but lightly, almost a whisper. i entered, and sonja poured me champagne.
i woke up smiling every day since. my boss gave me hot oatmeal to repair my voice. i smiled collecting newspapers from tables, folding them with the first family picture neatly on top. i thought about it long – the moment of the speech – and discovered i hadn’t cried. at all. lots of people cried for joy: apparently i only cry for sorrow. (cecilia, the boss’s wife, looked at one of the huge pictures, and what she had to say was, „poor guy, his grandma died”.) i see obama’s face, tired and deeply lined, his posture the moments before he spoke. somehow it makes it harder in retrospect to see what the cheering or the crying was for. the guy freakin’ just got himself a job. (and no, i’m not cynical. i’m trying to be…nuanced?…)
whatever. my point is that i understand elation, but when it lasts more than a few minutes it’s harder to understand. so i feel good. we’re better positioned for the US to get well under an obama administration. (again, what am i doing in the ‘we’??) and tuesday night was not the purpose for me. i’m still in it. for the serious and non-serious reasons. mumbling „president-elect obama” from time to time, tasting it like soft icecream. reading about the first presser, the cabinet, looking forward to jan 20 and beyond. it’s the only way i can adopt a country, apparently. by being a freak about that country, while i’m someplace else. (and yes it’s all my illusion & wishful thinking, thank you very much.)
but from now on it will be harder for me. silenter. i can’t expect any canadian, hell, any american, to keep up with these things as much as i’ll keep keeping up. i understand that the election caused interest (though, i mean, ‘canadian enthusiasm’ is after all an oxymoron), and that is over now. nevertheless. („yes we did” sounds way sadder than „yes we can”). but yes, we still can. it’s a fine beginning my friends.