I Ain't Seen the Like Since...

I didn't realize just how happy I was until I arrived at my friends' house and opened that first Guinness, with Rachel Maddow and the BBC interviewing survivors of the Little Rock Nine, and the joint realization that this is the first time in my lifetime that the guy I wanted to be president actually won. Sure, I voted for Clinton (Damn Near Republican) and went door-to-door for whoever was running against the Shrub, but this time...

Working with schoolchildren all day, with the inauguration on in the background, one tries to be a voice of moderation, explaining the process, asking leading questions, supplying the humorous anecdote: Andrew Johnson showing up drunk for his inauguration, William Henry Harrison (the Indian killer) literally talking himself to death by droning on for two hours in an icy rain. But children, for all their enthusiasm, don't get it. Being but strangers to this world, they recognize that it's "important", but they can't be expected to understand that there's anything unusual about today's events. If this day was going to be truly savored, it needed to be shared with adult friends.

The gore-crow of the Bush administration has finally taken its beak from out my heart. Complete sentences were spoken. Thomas Paine was quoted. The King James Bible was invoked. The wicked were politely admonished. My favorite was the benediction by the Reverend Joseph Lowery (co-founder of the SCLC with M.L. King) who with a twinkle in his eye, went beyond the lyrics of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" to end with a paraphrase of the bluesman Big Bill Broonzy:


But it wasn't just about seeing John Lewis and wondering what was going on in his scarred head, or seeing the cover painting of The Nation and tearing up when I realized that was Emmett Till and the four little girls killed in Birmingham standing on the podium with Obama. When Pat said there was a weight off her shoulders, I recognized there was a childlike element to my happiness; it felt like... when I was 10 or 11 years old... like that moment in Amazing Spider-Man #33...


3 comments:

John Martin said...

I know what you mean. We had dinner with an American friend at the British Club and watched the inauguration, stood when asked, and all cried during the address. Then we toasted and drank in real celebration, for the first time in 8 years. See, when President Bush was elected, I was only 20, so still practically a child. It is amazing to be an adult now and feel said weight removed from my shoulders. It feels as though everything changed last night, and it was good to have others around who got it.

Michael Fountain: Blood for Ink said...

I love how you say "dinner with an American friend at the British Club" like a character in a novel. Thursday was 30 Rock night here with Pat & Bill and Ericka & the other Mike; every so often someone would be seized by giddiness (which we all shared) when they realized that torture is illegal again or the president can speak in complete sentences. I thought of Ericka when I got home and saw this comment by someone called "Mars" on the blog I Am not the Beastmaster:
"Jimmy Olsen = me, and every other dedicated Obama supporter. And we all have signal watches."

Anonymous said...

Spiderman. Exactly. And thanks for finding the OTHER lyrics that inspired Rev. Lowery. That benediction was the high point of the whole thing for me.

I know it won't last forever, but, so far, every day and with every executive order, I feel better and better, lighter and lighter, younger, peppier, stronger, slimmer, wittier, and richer in all the right things. Cheers! Pat