I wrote this last night and didn't post it... but now that I'm here, well, thanks Sarah for the use of your Blackberry!
I can’t sleep and I wonder if he’s able to sleep tonight. So any thoughts are running through my head that I can’t seem to catch more than glimpses of them in my mind’s peripheral vision.
What would my grandparents, all four of them have to say about this? Papoo would thank God, I’m sure. He would be in church tomorrow – after watching on TV. I think MeMe and Grumpy would think of their own sons, all that hope and promise broken by this country and feel somewhat heartened by the fact that someone made it through; that someone so like their own sons arrived whole and intact at the mountaintop (or at least the last base camp).
But what would my namesake think? I never got to know her, but I think she would be so proud. I think that she too, would be thinking of her son. Of the times he risked his life – in war, in marches, at the voting booth and on dark southern streets, so that this man he has barely met could rise this high.
I wonder if any of them would think of their own sacrifices; of the multiple full time jobs worked, of the times they did without food, clothing and medical care so that their children wouldn’t have to. I know these things as storied told by my parents, aunts and uncles. I don’t know them in a real way because that is not the life I have lived.
And so, in some fundamental way, we are separated by all they strove for. See, I live in a world where it is not only conceivable for a Black man to become President, it will happen in less than 10 hours. They are from a world where it was a dream and tomorrow will be a miracle.
Lately it seems that the Hope mantra has been transformed to Unity. I feel it. I think we all do. But I have felt, much more over the past two years than ever in my life, how our experiences separate us. Tomorrow (well, today really) I’ll get up at four in the morning and join the crowds in the streets to wait for hours to see the culmination of something that began over 300 years ago when the first enslaved Africans were brought to this country. It will also be the beginning of something entirely new.
It is almost too much. I am glad that I won’t be with my father for that moment – because I think that it should be wholly his and wholly mine. This is something we can only share by being apart. I will know that he is in the crowd and I will remember the last time we were in DC together ... it was the 30th anniversary of the March on Washington. He went to the first one with my sister who was just a little girl at the time. She’ll be in crowd too.
My cousins from CA will be there. True Cape Verdean Americans, proud of their African heritage, still cooking the food and speaking the polyglot Portugese of the Islands – they have a special connection to the new President, being not just Black and White, but African and White. Maybe we’ll catch glimpses of each other.
Will I see people I know? Maybe. But as unified as we all will be by the momentous occasion, the work left to be done and the knowledge of the long, long way we’ve come I like to think that I’ll be anonymous in that crowd. I am just me, here, at this point in my journey taking a moment to really see and absorb the moment. And you are just you. What I feel at this moment more than anything is an immense respect for all the many and varied roads that have lead each of us here. I am content to stand on mine, look across at you on yours and smile.
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let us march on,
Til Victory is won.