That's how I'd describe the fans of President-elect Barack Obama, and the mood at Manuel's Tavern, last night. Pal Danny M. and I arrived and did a meet-up with a pal from my old Academy Theatre days(1985, 1986), one very fine actor-turned-great-teacher Mack. His wife Debra was lovely, and I was able to meet their friends, a couple from the UK, both of whom pined for the ability to cast a vote for Obama.
The demographic mix at Manuel's was about as reflective of our country as you could get--Latino/Hispanic(I'm never sure which term folks prefer, so I'm using both), Black-American(the new "preferred" term for blacks(African-American is considered "confusing" nowadays) says my pal Coral, who lived in D.C. for many years and is quite active in politics), Asian, South Asian, White, Young, Old, Very Old, Suburban, Intown, Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Straight.It was quite a party, filling up the entire back parking lot, as camera crews buzzed about, and folks began congratulations, long before the announcement would be made. We were enjoying it for a little over an hour, but hunger took over(Manuel's has great food, but there were NO tables left!!), as did my lack of tolerance for beer being spilled on my pretty shoes(by customers,not the staff!). So at approximately 11:00 P.M., we walked to "The Majestic" diner(if you're ever in Atlanta, it's still the most "authentic" diner food, though they've added "healthy" selections to the menu). Danny and I had a nice chat, and he had an omelette, as I chowed down on pancakes.
As we stepped out, it was obvious something had happened. Eerily quiet at first.
I noticed a voice-mail from my dear friend, Coral, on my cell. I played the message and heard only three words:"WE DID IT", and I could hear screaming in the background.
We switched on the car-radio to hear the news. And I called her back and we spoke a few moments, and I'm sure we were both in tears(I know I was--tears of joy!).
At first, I was upset at not having "witnessed" what I'd come to Manuel's for. I was even considering returning(Danny M.'s suggestion), but it struck me that I had seen what I needed to--I'd seen confirmation of what we've all been feeling these past 20 months. This longing for change was not hyperbole, it was real--IS real, and I felt redeemed in seeing it, via all those faces at Manuel's:
The children in tow, pasted with proud parents' "I VOTED" stickers; the fellows on motorcycles, looking rather like "roughnecks"(mullet-hair, scruffy beards, ripped t-shirts), but behaving like the inclusive, loving people they actually are, doing Obama fist-bumps, toasting to the inevitable victory; two blond girls, no older than 22, diligently studying their red/blue homemade maps, and matching their figures to what was onscreen. One of them commented to me,"Once he wins California, it's[the election] his..."; the ubiquitous "Sarah Palin" lookalikes dotted throughout the pub, who brought forth peals of laughter from all of us who see that caricature of a human being for what she is; the white-haired older gentlemen showing a nephew around, exclaiming, "Yep, this is where we come, son....".
These people made me feel pride in our strength, in our sense of humor, in our sense of ourselves.
I am physically sore, because of all the fist-pumping and "Obama-bumping" I did, dangling my arm outside Danny M.'s vintage Trans Am's car-window. I yelled "Obama, Obama", until I became hoarse. The returned chants of "Obama, Obama" began to sound like a ballad of sorts, or maybe an anthem.
When I arrived back here in the sleepy suburb of Alpharetta, lights were on in only a few homes. I decided to have Danny snap an "After" photo of my Obama sign and me, to contrast with the ones he snapped a couple of weeks ago. In this one(you'll see it at the end of this post), you'll see a very authentically happy Lisa.
I think President-Elect Barack Obama has proven what he set out to prove: that we can do it. We can be the kind of country where everything is possible, for all of us.
Yes, we can!