Tuesday, November 4, 2008 is a day I’m never going to forget. It was a day of before and after; an end and a beginning. I will always remember it as a day of change. A day that changed me, and changed our world.
It started, for me, in blackness, silence, and emptiness. Having worked through the night, at 1:45AM I was TA-ing for the documentary classes who had a project due at 12:30PM later that day. The library was nearing closing time, but we were working away. Suddenly, everything went black. We all scrambled for a moment, blind in the darkness, before we pulled out our cell phones for light and gathered our things to leave. News quickly spread that a transformer had blown, plunging my whole campus in darkness.
On my walk home from the library, I was struck by the eerie silence, the heavy darkness, and the absolute stillness of the campus. It seemed desolate. Calm, but in a something’s-wrong sort of way. I went to sleep in a void. The power was back on when I awoke, and I went about my daily business with ease, if not a bit of exhaustion. Around 6:00PM, I prepared for a spontaneous election-results watching party in my Residence Hall’s lounge. By 8:00PM, a small crowd had gathered, and we were cheerily debating about what would happen.
Then, at 10:59PM, with only ten seconds until polls closed on the West Coast, I began to count down. “Ten-nine-eight-seven-six-five-four-three-two-ONE!” CNN flashed, “BREAKING NEWS: BARACK OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT!”
And that’s when it happened. A collective shout echoed up around my entire building. Screaming and cheering was heard outside on the Quad. Students were chanting, running around. People we running in and out of the lounge I was in, hugging. Everyone was on phones, calling their loved ones. Firecrackers were going off outside. People were streaking across the Quad. It was chaos. It was exhilaration. It was absolute bliss.
It’s weird to me to think how this night is ending. As I write this now, at around 1:00AM, the cheering hasn’t stopped. There are fireworks going off in the distance. The campus is alive, bright, awake. They’re singing the National Anthem. They’re singing America the Beautiful. The world is electric.
And why? Because of one man, Barack Obama. The President-elect. The 44th President of the United States of America. A man who just a hand-full of minutes ago spoke to 125,000 people in Chicago, and viewers all over the United States. A man who presented a positive, hopeful view of America. A man who brings light, joy, and hope to thousands of people; young, old, black, white, Latino, native American, Asian, fat, thin, homosexual, heterosexual, male, female, etc. He is our President. He is our future. He is America.
I have no words to explain how I feel right now. It’s like the world is bright as day, and the colors are brighter in the trees. The leaves are turning, and falling, and making way for the blankness of snow, for the fresh slate, for the spring. It’s like the bitterness is leaving my tongue, the sulfuric smell is gone from my nose, my glasses have a fresh prescription, and everything feels softer. It’s like there’s an electric pulse, connecting me to thousands of my peers, thousands of my countrymen and women, thousands of citizens of the world.
And I’ve just realized what this feeling is: it’s patriotism. True and utter patriotism, pride, in my country. And hope. Hope for my future. For the future of our world. And the future of everyone I know and love. Our country is in good hands. And this is the first time that I’ve felt like this. This is the first time. I daresay things are changing. The light is back, there’s color in the horizon, and I’m powering through to a new beginning.
Let it start. Let the past go. This is our revolution.