There were signs. Four hot air balloons hanging in the blue sky one early afternoon. Two mornings in a row, I cracked open an egg with a double yolk. Then there was Eric Bibb at a concert singing, “Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.”
You can see, I was going for any positive message I could get. You’re thinking, but that was back then. That was when we had nervous stomachs and were afraid about getting too excited. That was back when we still didn’t know.
Maybe years from now we’ll be asking, “Remember where you were when we finally got to exhale?”
When “Yes, we can” became “Yes, we absolutely flipping did.”
We had a small family election night gathering at our house. One TV, a couple of laptops and cell phones to connect us to the daughter in Texas and other loyalists from afar. I was in the kitchen around 4:30 pm. when I heard the first expletive uttered from the living room. “What happened?” I yelled out. “Kentucky’s gone,” he said. But we all knew that Kentucky would go for the other guy, right? Kentucky, schmucky. So maybe that was just a non-sign?
The first bottle of wine was uncorked a few minutes before 5 p.m. I rationalized that we had been dabbling in different time zones all day and someone was drinking somewhere. Austin reported they’d already started.
The first election night I can remember was in Meadville, PA. My boyfriend’s father was a union leader and union people, I had learned, partied more than management. It was a small local election but celebrated in a big way with pork and sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Cold night Pennsylvania comfort food. Plus lots of bourbon.
On Tuesday I made a high carb cheesy concoction known in our family as Courthouse Noodles, a recipe that came from a friend of my husband’s who worked at the Sonoma County courthouse. It’s un-fancy food that appeals to two-year-olds on up and won’t slide off the plate when you dash from the kitchen to the TV.
Giddiness started to erupt early. At 6:40 p.m. my daughter the lawyer who had been working election protection online all day and was now giving reports from her laptop, declared, “It’s a done deal.” The Austin daughter, who had been making get-out-the-vote calls to swing states, whooped with equal certitude. My other daughter, the teacher, was holding back. I too, was worried about premature exhileration. Every time someone sung out high numbers in the blue column I asked, “What does Jim Lehrer say?”
I would believe it when the concession speech came from Phoenix. And when it did I went out on the front porch and hooted and hollered at the neighbors. It would have been thrilling to be with all those joyful tear stained people in Chicago. Or swarming outside the White House. Or dancing in Kenya. But you didn’t need to be holding hands to feel the connection. I thought about Deddrick Battle, a movie theater janitor interviewed in a New York Times story about black voters. At age 55 he had registered to vote for the first time. “This is huge,” he said. “This is bigger than life itself.”
Mr. Battle was right. It will be some time before we can really appreciate the enormity of this week. But for starters, there’s fresh air coming to the White House. My daughter, who never got over the loss of Jed Bartlett – you know Martin Sheen’s TV president – grinned as she was packing up the baby to go home and said: “Hey, the West Wing is back.”
Photo Courtesy of Ohio University Post