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Four More Years

November 7, 2012

I still remember the first time I heard his voice.

It was 2004.  I was so hopeful that year.  Hopeful, and afraid.  Afraid that things would keep sliding towards the hole I felt coming, a hole into which women’s rights and gay marriage and habeas corpus would be sucked down for another four years.  Hopeful that this would be the election would stop that slide.  I wasn’t completely sold on John Kerry.  He had a sort of surfer boy laid backness about him that I felt uneasy with.  But he was The Guy that year, so I was behind him.

I remember was editing pictures.  In those days, my office was nothing more than a confluence of hallways.  I had a giant, bulky printer, a slow, nitpicky scanner, and a single monitor on my desk.  For all of that, my computer was still one of the fastest in the department.  I had the power to multitask by streaming video or audio, updating code, and editing pictures all at once.  So I had a number of programs open, including a website which was playing the speeches for the Democratic National convention.  But since I only had one small screen, I could only look at one program at a time.  The pictures had my focus.

I barely remember the introduction.  Some guy, introducing some other guy, who was going to talk about how great The Guy was for a few minutes.  But I remember that voice.  I remember the way it rolled out of my speakers, catching my attention and making me stop what I was doing.  I switched windows and for the very first time, I saw his face.  That strong, confident face.  I remember thinking “This guy is going to be president someday.”

Four years later, and he was running for President.  One of the local conservative student groups held a rally against him, with all the truly classic tackiness of people who can’t see past their own privilege.  The first rally involved a mask of his face on a stick.  Somehow, no one seemed to consider just how much that mask looked like a head on a pike, and just why that might be a wee bit inappropriate.  So it was shut down.  A little while later, they held another event, this time with pictures instead of masks.  Still just as tacky.  I went to watch for a while.  I felt proud of the students who came to speak out against it, rationally, logically.  I remember a girl behind me making a cleverly derisive comment, and turning to smile at her.  She had her arms crossed, defensive.  She looked me up and down and declared “Yeah, I said it.  What of it?”  I wanted to tell her that I had been waiting for this moment for four years.  It was sooner than I had imagined possible, sooner than I had dared dream.

I was at home, making dinner.  Chicken pot pie, cooked in a cast iron skillet which had been passed down to me from one of the women in my family.  I was scooping the pie filling into a cobalt blue glass bowl when the man who was only by boyfriend at the time called from the next room.  “Obama won.”  The next day I wrote it down in my blog, because I wanted to remember.

Last night, I stayed up late with the man who is now my husband.  Both of us lying face down in bed, propped up on pillows so we could hold our tablets and read the news.  It had been a particularly bad day for my pain levels and I was anticipating the oblivion of sleep.  But I wanted to see it.  I needed to see it.  My husband and I switched back and forth from Facebook to Politico to various news sites.  And even when the news sites started calling it, I waited.  Politico hadn’t yet updated their site, and I needed that last confirmation.  I dreaded waking up in the morning and discovering that everyone had been wrong.

This morning, I woke up and Obama had still won.  Though I cannot claim to have contributed to his win in the same way as some of his more dedicated advocates, I feel proud to have been here working for him for so many years.  Now, I can be here with him for four more.  For that, I am happy.

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