At one point, Talia and I were interviewed and shared that the experience was “mind-blowingly unreal”.
SO – now that I’m a day and a half away from it – how did it feel? The energy there was deep, powerful, joyous – and serious – all at once. While it was a celebration, it was not a raucous and frenzied celebration. Like the man we had just elected, it was a celebration with gravity – knowing that the task at hand is serious, critical and urgent. That we need to be thoughtful and not out of control, but savoring the moment and planning for the future.
Eric and I had a pretty unique experience compared with most other folks (Probably all other folks). I recommend reading the many accounts from people who didn’t have a 3 and 6 year old to get a sense of what most people experienced. For us – it was amazing being there with the whole family, but I will admit that having kids up at the equivalent of 11pm Seattle time in a large, crowded venue was not the walk in the park that a walk in the park should have been.
It was so incredible seeing the new first family and the extended family – with the first vice family as well. I couldn’t help but continue to channel Axelrod’s line: this isn’t just about electing Obama as the next President, this is about making change in this country. In my next post are thoughts on change and what that might mean for anyone reading this blog.
In terms of our very personal experience – a couple of very funny anecdotes (again – no one else in the audience had this experience):
at 7:58pm, just prior to the polls closing and to the announcement of Obama as the President Elect – Talia says “Mama, I have to go Potty – urgently”. OY! SO – with Talia in the backpack, I contemplated a nature pee – but decided instead – okay – let’s try to make it to the porta-potties. At 8pm, they flash the CNN projection of Obama as President Elect – so I turned back and raced back into the field area where Eric was – about 50 ft in front of Obama – and then turned back around to hustle to the potties. I probably should have bribed a reporter to take her behind the press tent to pee in the field, but I didn’t have the wherewithal. Instead, i went upstream in the current of bodies flooding out of the VIP tents onto the field shouting “Little girl who has to go potty urgently coming through”. Note – the line works VERY WELL at parting seas of people. She does her business and then we head back in through the traffic jam of people – elbowing our way back into where Eric and Sidney are.
I don’t see Sidney, though, and ask where he is. Eric points to the ground and I see that he’s very busy wadding up self-made grass clippings. RIght around John McCain’s concession speech, Sidney stands up, triumphantly shows us a soccer ball sized nest of grass clippings and, before we can say anything to stop him, launches them in the air to fall like confetti on the well-clad people around us. Fortunately, most of the people wearing the grass were in good spirits. Eric and I were MORTIFIED – but quickly brushed off people’s shoulders and hair and then, as Barack came on, everyone forgot everything else that existed in the world and we were off the hook.
At that point, Sidney started to get sleepy – and fell asleep on Eric’s shoulder. Talia – very sleepy- couldn’t fall asleep and started to melt down. Thus – my experience with hearing him first hand was more clipped. It was about half “I want to leave and go home now” and then half Barack’s soaring vision.
Was it worth it having the kids there? WIll they remember it? Yes and who knows. Fundamentally – to have shared that experience with my family is something I will always cherish and draw on when I need amazing thoughts of the family. Even if they only remember it through the stories that we recount to them, it was something now deeply embedded in their “memories”.