It’s been over a year since Barack Obama became president of the United States, and I still get a little thrill every time I realize he’s our president. He’s taking a lot of flack lately, and he still hasn’t been able to reform health care (the big reason I wanted him to win!), but I am proud to say I voted for him. Here’s a little something I wrote just after I got back from Washington, D.C., last January.
On the plane ride out to Washington, D.C., from Chicago’s Midway Airport, I sat next to a 97-year-old black woman and her granddaughter who were heading to President Barack Obama’s inaugural festivities. Nothing in particular–they were just going to town to celebrate this historic event. The grandmother was decked out in a fur coat and matching hat for the plane ride. We all started chatting about how incredible this election is and how we’re all feeling so happy about our new president. The whole plane was really one big Obama party.
The granddaughter and I talked quite a bit: about racism in America, about hope, about parenting, about purses. I started talking about Val and Bella, and asked her if she was a mom. She told me that her only child, a son, was murdered back in 1995. He was 19. I paused, felt privately ashamed for ever expressing annoyance about my own children, and told her how sorry I was to hear that. She told me that every day she works to make the world a better place–in his memory. When I asked what his name was, her grandmother, who had been mostly silent during the plane ride, piped up and said, “We called him Boo.” I think his real name was Kenneth.We moved on to other topics, mostly Obama. How he was bringing everyone together, black and white. He certainly did on that plane. I won’t forget those women and our conversation. The energy on that plane ride was so positive, so happy, so electric. It’s a good time to be an American.