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Thursday, January 1, 2009

When my mother left home to pursue her doctorate, I knew nothing would ever be the same. One might think that my world should've been rocked the previous year, when I started college. I'd also left home for extended periods before (including the previous two semesters and a summer in England), but I always knew I was coming home. So as she pulled out of my father's driveway, I came to a very stark realization that physically shook me: Mom wasn't coming home.

I was so overwhelmed by sadness that I collapsed into my father's arms, unable to fully rationalize what was happening to my world. I'd become so comfortable in my reality, despite it not being the American Idyll(TM), that I couldn't conceive of things changing - despite the fact that I was quite aware of my mother's dream and the steps she'd been taking to follow it.

My sheltered, suburban childhood was over. Whatever vain hope I had of my parents reuniting was dead. Since I was too young and didn't remember their divorce, this was the first time that I felt my routine reality would sent back to square one.

Everything would change.

I went a long time before I felt again precisely that strange mix of emotions: so disorienting and shocking, yet interesting enough in its pure uniqueness that my intellectual curiosity is piqued. See, I've always been very conscious of my emotions and capable of evaluating them objectively. I can fly off the handle and later, fully realize I've been an ass and why I was an ass. In an instant, I can know precisely why I'm happy, but my analytical side never takes away from my enjoyment. And I never cry without provocation. There's always a reason.

The tears that shook out of my eyes that day dried long ago, and truth be told, I haven't cried much since. Little occasion to, I guess.

But when, ironically, my mother - now a tenured professor and the agent of change in my world - called me from Florida to celebrate well after the 11:00pm confirmation of Barack Obama's election to our nation's highest office, I was too overwhelmed to speak. This, after I'd spent the first few moments of victory holding my lady close as tears shook out of her. I felt as if my team had won three Super Bowls in one night. Emotional in a way that was dizzying, and decidedly not alone. Thousands more were like me (see above), arriving all at once at the intersection of Joyous and Overwhelmed. As they were that day in my father's driveway, tears were inevitable.

Here was a nation that, for the first time in my adult life, now stood ready to make the world I'd been dreaming about in my little liberal head for so long. As my homegirl Tracy Chapman sang in one of my favorite songs:
The whole world's broke and it ain't worth fixing
It's time to start all over, make a new beginning
There's too much pain, too much suffering
Let's resolve to start all over make a new beginning

Now don't get me wrong I love life and living
But when you wake up and look around at everything that's going down
All wrong
You see we need to change it now, this world with too few happy endings
We can resolve to start all over make a new beginning

Start all over
Start all over
Start all over
Start all over

Everything will change. Everything has changed.



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