Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fuck Yes.

I know, I know, I was supposed to blog in London and I totally didn’t. In my defense, there’s a lot of stuff to do in London, and a week is really not that much time. Also I’m lazy. So we’re going to go non-chronological for a bit so I can talk about the election while it’s still fresh in my mind.

I watched the election in Freddie’s, the pub in the Goodenough College building where my friend Jenna lives. The room was packed, mostly with Americans although there were lots of Brits, some Canadians, and at least one Dutch kid.
I couldn’t find a good seat, so I was tempted to yell “All non-American citizens out! This is our election, dammit, and it’s my life that’s going to be affected by it!” but I didn’t. Eventually I managed to squeeze in next to Jenna’s friend Jeff. Keep in mind that this was at about 2 in the morning, London time (9 pm East Coast time). The room was quite loud, everyone hoping that Obama would win (pretty much the entire world wanted him to win, as far as I know). I forget what time exactly we knew it was over – maybe 3:30 or 4? Anyway, CNN called it for Obama and the room went CRAZY. Everyone stood up, screaming and shouting and clapping and hugging everyone in sight, even the non-Americans. It was amazing. We all continued to stay up to watch the speeches (I thought McCain’s speech was actually quite good – very gracious) and I woke Jenna up to watch Obama’s speech. He is magnificent. Such a good orator, such a smart man, such an amazing symbol of America. There were quite a few people who admitted to crying, including me. I overheard an English guy saying, “It’s just amazing that for the next four years, this man will be giving the State of the Union address” and that’s when it really hit me that Barack Obama will actually be President. We get to listen to him speak, we get to watch him on TV – we can finally be proud to be American again, something that I haven’t felt in at least 8 years.

At this point it was already 5:30 in the morning, so we decided it didn’t make any sense to go to sleep, and went back to Jenna’s room to have tea. That was when I remembered that I hadn’t packed a thing, and that since I’d bought two scarves, two bags, some stocking stuffers and a nice big wool coat, it was going to take some effort to fit everything into my already stuffed suitcase. Luckily it all fit in eventually, and I had time to take a half-hour nap before heading off to St Pancras to catch the Eurostar. I was still incredibly giddy from the election and had to fight off the urge to tell everyone on the train that the world had just changed and that I had had a part in it (Vermont was the first state Obama won! Go us!).

Back in France, I’m the only American most of my colleagues know, and certainly the only American they talk to on a regular basis. So I’ve had a lot of really interesting conversations, most of them along the lines of “Wow, your country can actually do things right every once in a while. Well done!” I also have to talk about it in most of my classes, and I can’t seem to wipe the idiotic giddy grin off my face when the students ask me if I’m happy with the election results, so they laugh every time, but I don’t mind. I haven’t been this hopeful in years.

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