November 5, 2008

And So It Begins!

Here's a brief recap of my election day experience:

Yesterday morning my wife and I headed out early to our voting site and we were stopped in our tracks when we saw this:

We got in line and began our two hour wait to place our vote. While in line we chatted with neighbors and marveled at the huge turn out. After about an hour, my wife gave in to the cold and her tired feet and was allowed inside to find a seat to rest (one of the perks of being pregnant!!) while I kept our place in line. Another hour later we were reunited inside and participated in the historic day!

Still excited, she headed off to work and I headed back to the studio to paint.

A couple of hours later, I got a call from my sister (who I had loaned our car to so she could be a legal observer at polling stations in Virginia). Bad news.... An ambulance had hit her. She wasn't hurt and the car wasn't badly damaged, but it definitely put a damper on both of our days as she spent two hours waiting for and then dealing with the police investigator, and I dealt with the insurance side of things.

At about 5pm I ran over to the gym for a quick work out and was surprised to find so many people there all tuned in to CNN.

By 7pm friends started coming over to watch the results. We even made our own electoral map that we colored in as the result for each state was declared.

When Pennsylvania was declared blue and then Ohio, we began celebrating. But for me, the biggest win of the night was Virginia.... Growing up and going to school in the diverse city of Alexandria, Virginia and then going to college in Richmond, VA, I have known for a long time that the state was split, but I have only dared to dream that it could go blue.... The state that is home to the capitol of the Confederacy going blue? A blue Virginia says it all!

And then the 44th President was declared!

As I listened to Obama speak, I couldn't shake the feeling that we were finally stepping out of an 8 year episode of the Twilight Zone... The contrast between then and what will be was and is almost unbelievable!

Immediately after the speech, we jumped in the car thinking that we would go to U Street to join the celebrations there. As soon as we started driving, we were honking the horn and blowing the whistle my wife had brought along and within minutes we were driving alongside others doing the same... The honking in the city and the amount of people on the streets cheering and chanting "Obama" and "Yes we did!" was incredibly moving... The city was alive! It was overwhelming....

When we got to 16th and U we saw that the police had blocked the street so we looked at each other and yelled "The White House!"

Somehow we got there, despite the traffic and lack of parking, and found ourselves among thousands in Lafayette Park and on Pennsylvania Ave.....

We spent roughly 4 hours down there singing, chanting, yelling, celebrating, jumping, giving hi fives, and embracing complete strangers..... The joy was palpable... It was an absolutely amazing and emotional night.

My lovely (and pregnant wife) Exhausted but jubliant after a long day. As a new US citizen, this was her first opportunity to vote in a Presidential Election

"I've never seen anything like this!" someone exclaimed.

"I have!" my wife yelled back, "When Argentina won the World Cup!"

Video of the celebrations in Washington DC at the corner of 16th and K st one block from the White House (the whistler is me!)

Me, the artist, with a whistle and making noise on top of a electrical box at the corner of 16th and K st one block from the White House