Ticket or No Ticket We’ll Be There to Congratulate President Elect Obama!!

Today's New York Times headline.
The New York Times front page the Wednesday after Election Day.

On January 20th, 2009 we’re going to Washington to witness President-elect Barack Hussein Obama become the 44th President of the United States!

I’d been walking around saying Oh I wish we could be there.
And then The Big Guy said Well let’s look into it.
So far, the only tickets we’re holding are our Amtrak tickets. (which were not cheap)

We have kindly requested our Members of Congress and U.S. Senators to toss our names into the hat for the free tickets to the Inaugural Swearing In and have been assured that our “requests have been well received.”

The way I see it is, really, who needs tickets?

I just want to be a part of the moment, standing under the same patch of sky as the Obamas, shoulder to shoulder with people eager to wish them well. I don’t want to watch this event on my TV from my living room. We’re taking binoculars and if I only see the Obamas from far, far afield, that is still OK with me.

I watched the Election Night festivities taking place in my hometown with envy. Looking at all those shining faces in Grant Park against the glittering Chicago skyline I’ve known all my life, (I even recognized a high school and a college chum in the crowd) I suddenly longed to be there with them. And when Obama took the stage and delivered his momentous speech, chunks of which I am still replaying in my mind, my longing swelled.

Step In Lounge on Metropolitan Avenue in Parkchester, the Bronx and one of the few local businesses with an Obama sign in the window.

Back here, our Bronx nabe in the Parkchester environs was eerily quiet. I was stunned.
After Obama’s midnight speech we decided to go out to make a toast . As we walked the three blocks to the Step In Lounge, I whispered to The Big Guy “Where is everybody?”
I whispered because I felt I might wake up the neighborhood if I spoke any louder. No one was outside. It was the complete opposite to what we’d just seen on the news showing people dancing in the streets of the other boroughs. At the Step In, I even overheard someone seated next to us say, “Why is the Bronx so quiet?”.

I wondered were my neighbors quiet because Obama had won?
Or were they quiet because McCain had lost?
Was it apathy?
Did they think it a bit premature to get so excited about “Change you can believe in” but change they may never see?
Or were they just keeping their feelings close?

My neighborhood’s reaction, or rather lack of, on election night confounded me and made me downright angry. I was not sure on what side of the fence my neighborhood would put itself.

Leading up to November 4th, I never felt the sense of urgency and importance of this presidential election played out here. The Parkchester area never showed any obvious allegiance to either Obama or McCain — no signs , no posters in the windows of the businesses nor in the apartments and houses. Not too many people wearing buttons for either candidate. No one pressing pamphlets into my palm. A few times a lone woman had a table with Obama info at the Parkchester 6 train station. But she was not a regular sighting.

I’m trying not to be too hasty in my conclusion about my neighborhood folk. Since election day, I have noticed a few more Obama button wearers on Metropolitan Avenue. A lesson is to be learned here I am sure. This election has been extraordinary in so many ways that we can not possibly know or understand the meaning of what has happened to all of us. It may take many more days, maybe years longer than I’m allowing to figure out what that meaning is.