Sunday, November 9, 2008

Our Kennedy

brent shakes me.

get up. get up. he won. hes about to make his speech.

I shuffle into the living room where the survivors are still drunk and going strong while the rest of us are rubbing our eyes and easing into our hangovers. people clear themselves a spot between the chili bowls and beer bottles and obama t-shirts littering the floor. I lean on leah’s legs to watch mccain’s speech while someone starts pouring champagne.

it’s 7:30am when obama finally walks on stage. the room stills.

I always envied my parents for living through the Kennedy years. I always wanted to know what it felt like to love a president that much. to believe and trust a leader that way. someone once told me it wasn’t possible with today’s notorious media and the general lack of celebrity privacy. I believed them then. how do we maintain heroes when the paparazzi get rich off highlighting their vices and underlining their failures? I’ve felt this pessimism for years.

but there was obama.

obama with his smart suit and his tidy family and his honest smile. obama saying he was here to help us. admitting that he wasn’t perfect. praising us for believing in change. challenging us to trust him and to trust this country as he works to close a war and repair a recession. obama young and fresh and powerful and believable.

obama making us feel safe.

by 8:00 he had finished. I looked around the room at people crying and clinking their champagne glasses. someone said

this makes me want to be back home

and we all agreed as a wave of homesickness swept through the room.

where were you when kennedy was assassinated?
where were you when the twin towers fell?
where were you when obama won?

I was on a sofa in Gaborone, sipping cheap champagne and wiping my eyes and understanding patriotism for the first time in my life.


Sara Ede said...

This made me cry again. I sobbed that morning.

Nimadi said...

Hi Jess-

I found your blog through the BU mph/PCV website and I've been catching myself up on your experiences. I'm currently a senior (undergraduate) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and I spent Sept 2008-May 2009 in Kenya. I remember the day Obama won more clearly than almost any of my experiences. I love reading your blog and hopefully soon I'll be back in Africa also as an mph/PCV like you. I cannot wait to finish reading your posts, but I had to comment on this one in particular! Thanks for writing! I miss Kenya more and more every day, and your writing really brings me back.

Kind of random, I know, but again thank you and I hope your work is going well.