We laughed. We wept. We danced. We waved flags and when Michael McDonald softly crooned “America the Beautiful” I looked around and thought the same thing that Obama reminded the world later. This is our country, too.
A last minute credential delivered a nose-bleed seat at the top of Invesco Field with a straight open view to the podium. My Denver friend didn’t have a ticket and stayed home to watch so I went by myself. Maybe it’s the Rocky Mountain hospitality or maybe every convention is this way but there were no real strangers in Denver this week.
We were all on the same side and going to the same party.
On a standing room only bus that crawled two miles from downtown to the arena I met a young techie from Colorado Springs who said to follow him and got us to the front of the first security line.
Inside I sat next to a Denver woman, giddy with disbelief that she’d been given a ticket just that morning. A man came up to her on the street at the Convention Center and asked her if she wanted his ticket. She and I sat in mile-high bliss, sharing nachos and dancing in our seats. Every so often she’d shout out “Bless you, Barack.”
I kept telling myself, “Remember this.”
I met a teacher who got in line at 9 a.m. to wait for the gates to open at noon for a program that didn’t start until three hours later. She’d read two newspapers and was on her third large Coke and raring to roar. I watched a woman hooked up to an oxygen tank, slowly make her way up the steep steps, assisted by a teenager in a “Super-Obama Man” T-shirt.
A young woman in a business suit stared up into the packed stands and plaintively wailed, “Tony. Where are you?” Hundreds applauded their reunion.
More than 80,000 adoring people were so ready for Obama we started cheering for the sound technicians, long before Nancy Pelosi called the historic meeting to order. We didn’t stop cheering until the last fireworks exploded and streamers and confetti covered the stage and the Obamas kissed and the Bidens hugged.
The masses emerged from the stadium desperately seeking shuttles. A small band of us went up and over a hill to finally locate the promised buses. Back onboard I sat with a Baptist from Houston who talked about Obama being a good example to black fathers. Off the bus, I went looking for a cab to get to my friend’s when a woman asked my destination. She said she was going my way and we could take a city bus.
We got to chatting and discovered that we grew up in the same part of Connecticut at the same time. We knew the same movie theaters, the same beaches and remembered our mothers taking us shopping at the same long-gone department store.
It felt like a safe, small world, full of tender-hearted people. All hoping in the same direction.