Lucky Seven

28 11 2008


This is the seventh post that I’ve started about President-Elect Barack Obama.

Here’s hoping that I can finish it.

I’ve been having a really hard time clearly expressing my feelings about the occasion of his election. Since feelings haven’t been working I’ve decided to shift gears and talk about facts.

Barack Obama’s campaign is the first campaign that I have ever felt connected to and inspired by. I donated money. I talked to my family and my friends about it. I even, as the campaign neared its end, called perfect strangers in battleground states to try and get the vote out. This was a big deal for me. I don’t even call my Grandmother and this campaign got me to call people all over the country. I was overwhelmed by the positive reception that I got from people when I told them where I was calling from and why I was calling. This sense of connection to my fellow Americans, the sense that I could actually think of them, without a smirk or a cringe, as my fellow Americans is something that I have never felt in my entire life.
I felt so connected I even called my Grandma.

Nearly everyone in my family voted. My mother, who I don’t believe has voted since the Carter Administration and who has never given money to any candidate, donated to Michelle Obama (that’s how we referred to the Obama campaign in my family, “Michelle Obama”) and voted early for Michelle’s husband.

Future President

Future President

My sister voted early and took my one year old nephew Malcolm to the polling station with her. She has kept her “I Voted” sticker and keeps putting it on his clothes. He’s too lazy to walk and she chastises him by saying, “Son you won’t be able to be President like Barack Obama if you can’t even put the effort into walking.” He just smiles at her and points to her eyes or his “I Voted” sticker.
My brother, who is a schizoid personality with severe paranoia, registered to vote. My brother prefers jobs that don’t require him to fill out a W-2 form, has allowed my mother to assume the deed or title holder of nearly all of his large possessions and has changed his cell phone number every three to six months for the past 4 years. Five years ago he… well he says that he “escaped” or “took a break” … from the family and refused to allow himself to be found for nearly a year. He still refuses to tell me any specifics about where he is, what he does or where he’s going and he registered to vote and voted early. He told me, “I had to give the government some information so that I could vote for my man Barack. I will be changing the information the same day I make my vote though, trust.” Just because he’s paranoid doesn’t mean he’s not out to get change.

I keep crying. I cried so hard on Election Night (once the guests left) that I astounded myself. I don’t recall ever being that happy in my life. Because it was more than just joy. I occurred to me that I’d really invested a lot of my time and energy into Mr. Obama’s campaign and when he said that it was our victory I believed him. I cried so often on November 5th I was weak the next day. Every time the Election Night photos or the acceptance speech were shown on TV I cried or at least teared up. I’ve being trying to write this post for weeks now and each time I start I end in tears.

I had to step away from this post for a couple of days because I still am having trouble finding the words.

I don’t have a father. I lost him, emotionally at least, when I was about 10 to alcohol. And after he and my mother split when I was thirteen there were years of radio silence. The last time I saw him was when I graduated from high school. It was heartbreaking. I remember being eighteen and looking at this… this shrunken ashen man — this man who didn’t resemble the Daddy that I’d known and loved and who didn’t even resemble the bitter angry alcoholic Father who ate him. All I could see was the space where he should have been.

That’s not exact. That’s not what I mean.

What I mean is, I looked at him and saw a man who’d given up. Who was past hope and care. He’d shrugged his shoulders and thrown up his hands at first himself, then his family and then the world. He smiled like loose pebbles. He made promises that he didn’t keep and ten years passed before he even so much as called me. He abandoned himself and he abandoned me.

I know that there are good policy reasons and feel-good historic reasons for feeling jubilant about President-Elect Barack Obama but when I see him, I see the Daddy that I should have had. The Daddy that a lot of little girls and little boys (and not so little girls and not so little boys) should have had.

When I see Barack Obama with his daughters I see everything that I lost when I was ten. I see how my father should have filled the space in. I see a man who doesn’t believe in giving up, who smiles like a warm embrace and who calls his daughters every chance he gets. I see someone who would not abandon his responsibilities, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and now the United States of America.
I see someone who looks you in the eyes and tells you the truth. “Yes we can.” I see someone who believes that, “This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

He gives me hope.

That’s a fact.

Cross posted at Magnificent Chaos.




One response

24 08 2009
Yes we (still) can. « Journal of a Power Dyke in Training

[…] I know that there are good policy reasons and feel-good historic reasons for feeling jubilant about … […]

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