It is at moments like this that I become keenly aware of the inherent failing of words. Sometimes they are just not enough. However, years from now when my children ask me where I was when the face of history changed, it will go something like this...
I was in Brooklyn, taking acting class where the focus of the night was will and energy--I know, I know sometimes the push of an acting class can seem so ridiculous, but for this one night it was anything but. We stopped work around nine and moved next door where we drank ourselves silly and gorged on expensive chocolates as the masks of Bali, that adorned the walls, smiled down on us. The reports were already good, as they had been for days, so a breeze of optimism hovered like a promise.
It was practically done. Obama had taken Pennsylvania, and as the CNN expert did everything he could to get McCain to a hypothetical 270 electoral votes, he came up short each and every time. 266, that was McCain's best chance. But if we Americans learned anything eight years ago, it is that things are not always as they seem.
I was absorbed in a conversation when it happened. I don't know what we were talking about, but I turned and there it was. The ticker. The promise fulfilled. The hope that we longed to taste: the ticker running across CNN's screen declared Obama as the president elect. Everything shifted. The texture of the air changed. The reverberations of that moment will be felt for generations to come.
I will never, ever forget the emotion that took my body captive. It was, is, beyond words. A mixture of joy, disbelief, shock, pride, understanding, gratitude, and above all, hope. We jumped, danced, started, stared in silence, made phone calls, clapped our hands, hugged our friends, took pictures, and all throughout I desperately tried to remember every detail--to make tangible the intangible. But I couldn't. And that's when I realized, I mean really realized, this is so much bigger than all of us.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not naive enough to think one person can change a country (well, maybe they can because Bush sure did something) and I know the system is flawed, perhaps beyond repair. But for this one night I was going to celebrate. Celebrate that 13 million more voters than ever before cast a ballot. Celebrate that a young, vibrant, African-American family would be moving into the White-House. Celebrate that Virginia, yes Virginia, went blue. Celebrate that the American people did what sixty years ago, even ten years ago, even ten months ago, many believed impossible.
And celebrate we did. We took to the streets, chanting, cheering, talking to random strangers--people we'd usually avoid because the differences between us seemed too great to overcome. And as the night ended, and I headed back to Manhattan, the taxi came to a light on a street that was overrun with people. The taxi could do nothing but crawl. And what's a girl to do in a moment like that but hang out the window and join in? I'll most likely never again see most of the people I met on Tuesday night, but I'll carry them with me forever, because on Tuesday night, the fourth of November, I met the best of what America has to offer.