Yes You Did!

I don't think there's much to be said about the presidential election that hasn't been said already. Sean and I started the day on tenterhooks, hearts hammering and---hell, what am I saying, we started the year on tenterhooks. We watched CNN pretty much every night of the week in 2008, tuned in obsessively to all of the debates, followed every blip and blurb on Barack Obama, crossed our fingers tight, tight, tight.

"I think I'm going to cry either way," I said a few months ago. "I'm going to cry if he loses, obviously, but by god, I'm going to cry if he wins too. Wouldn't it just be amazing?"

As it turns out, I didn't cry in the end: something about there being too much going on, too much excitement to even think about crying, and besides, I think Oprah had the monopoly on the tears anyway. But all day, I've been thinking about the momentousness of this event, the way it happened, it really happened. My goodness, when you Americans do something, you don't do it by halves. You really knock it out of the park, don't you? Such dedication! Such stamina! If I were your manager and we were at work, I'd give you all a raise and a promotion and a corner office with a view, plus I'd totally let you leave early on Fridays. And hey, even if your guy didn't win, I hope you still feel happy with the enthusiasm this election generated. Everyone, everywhere: please all give yourselves a double chocolate chip brownie.

Speaking of double chocolate chip brownies, baked goods were---as we know---pretty much my only contribution to this life-changing historical event, and I'm sorry about that, because I would have loved to have been more useful. It's strange, feeling so much a part of America---I've lived here, on and off, since 1995---and yet not truly being able to identify with what this means to you as a nation. I know I never can, of course---that's your personal victory, and no ex-pat Brit, no matter how deep her love and enthusiasm for her adopted country would ever deign to muscle in on it---but man, can I say this? I am just so proud of you.

What I love about America---what I've always loved about America, why I moved here in the first place, why I'll probably never leave---is that absolutely anything is possible. People come here seeking themselves, they come to make things better, and if you're lucky enough to be born here? Well then, gracious, you can be whatever you want to be: even the president of the United States.

"Shakespeares are this day being born on the banks of the Ohio," wrote Melville in Moby Dick, a line that's stuck with me ever since I read it in a musty classroom years and years ago. Thank god for a country where we still believe that and where we get to prove---not just in this election, but time and time again---that it's true. Congratulations, America, and thanks for having me. I'm simply thrilled to be here.

1
sarah von
Nov 06, 2008

It really is *so* true. It's only here in America that Obama's story is possible.

I've had this weird feeling fluttering around in my rib cage all day that I couldn't place. Patriotism! I didn't know I had it in me.

2
Georgia
Nov 06, 2008

It was such an amazing night. I embarrassed myself by bursting into sobby tears once I finally saw "President elect Obama" on the zillionth time I refreshed Huffington Post. I turned to my cat, since he was the only other person in the room, and told him what happened. He seemed pretty stoked. Due to a migraine AND heartburn, someday I'll tell my kids that I puked then went to bed at 10:30 the night Obama was elected. I went to bed smiling, though.

3
Chloe
Nov 06, 2008

I'm glad I'm not the only one who spent November 4th, 2008 drunk out of their mind and crying. And not knowing what this funny feeling known as "patriotism" and "pride" actually is, for I haven't felt it in nearly a decade.

It's a great feeling. I hope it sticks around for a bit. :)

4
Sanguine Spice
Nov 06, 2008

OMG, I've been holding my breath for EIGHT YEARS! I (and however many millions more) was so devastated in the wake of the 2004 election, that the days leading up to yesterday were like an elephant on my chest (no pun intended)! It was unbelievable to walk back into my meeting at work yesterday, a meeting FULL of my Chinese colleagues, after speaking with my sister in Portland and confirming that Obama had won, and then to fight back tears while the room full of non-Americans stood up and clapped. CLAPPED! I don't think I've ever been so enormously proud to be an American.

5
Houseofjules
Nov 06, 2008

I alternated between holding my breath & crying. It was incredible to be in Chicago and feel so much more a part of it all. I'm so proud of our country.
Jules
House of Jules

6
Elli
Nov 06, 2008

This was a really wonderful, inspired and inspiring post. Thanks for the perspective...those of us lucky enough to live here could afford to be a little more proud of our country now and again (though this week's election pretty much sent my long-dormant pride and in America through the roof, too). Thanks for writing this, and for the reminder.

7
Vicki
Nov 06, 2008

I'm not American and I don't live in America, but I cried. I cried when I read the results on the BBC news website. I cried when I saw the celebrations on Sky News at 7am as I got ready for work. And I cried when I got this text from my best friend who lives in Chicago:
"This city is on fire... Everyone is screaming and happy. We are All for change!"

Congratulations America!

8
jennifer
Nov 06, 2008

what a relief, guys! i'm so thrilled. we stayed up until a billion o'clock in the morning, myself (a canadian living in holly's native land) and my boyfriend (american from georgia).

what we all found funny about all the speeches and media saying "only in america could this story be possible!", is that all the canadians looked at each other and said, "actually, it would be not only possible in canada, but far easier and with cheaper access to education, healthcare and political processes". now obviously canada doesn't have the history of slavery and racial pain that america has, which made obama's election the historic acheivement that is is.

but my point is this - this is not the time for america to rest on this development, wipe its hands and think, we really are the greatest. no. and not because i disagree with that statement, but because this thinking breeds complacency. and it's time for the world to see how innovative and progressive americans can be, not how self-congratulating and ultimately, igornant it has been in the past.

GOBAMA!

9
jennifer
Nov 06, 2008

i also realise that there's a typo on the word "ignorant". how ironic...;)

10
Laura
Nov 06, 2008

Holly- That was a beautiful post. I have, apparently, been taken my American citizenship for granted because I have never ever thought of this country in that light. I've been so busy hating on it and planning my move to anywhere else...I never looked at it from someone else's eyes. Thank you SO much for writing that and opening my eyes to how fortunate we all are. Seriously, thank you.

11
Kelli
Nov 06, 2008

Excellent post, Holly.

12
Steph
Nov 06, 2008

Amen!

And this is the second day in a row your blog has made me want food... then again, I do have a slight dessert obsession:)

13
amber
Nov 06, 2008

My little black neighbor, age three, was kicking weeds yesterday, and his mom snapped at him. I smiled at her and said, "Careful! You might be talking to a future president!" And we grinned at each other.

It is a great day.

14
Adaora
Nov 06, 2008

BEST THING EVER.

Ran to catch the bus from uni to get home in time. Then I watched as my state (Connecticut) which I voted absentee for got him, I watched him keep winning over and over again...then when CNN put that on the screen I went ballistic. I screamed, jumped, cried, and yelled at the same time. It was the best moment of my life. Surrounded by family and friends and..wow. And his speech....his speech was beyond words. He is just amazing.

OBAMA, OBAMA!

15
Cat
Nov 06, 2008

And we are ever so delighted to have you here my dear!

16
Jen
Nov 06, 2008

I'll join in the chorus of saying thank you for this post, Holly. I've rarely seen reasons to be proud of America in my adult life. I was thrilled with the election results, but you've given me a much needed reminder of why my great-grandparents came here in the first place.

17
sensibly Sassy
Nov 06, 2008

I sobbed when it was declared. I couldn't help myself. There is no denying history has been made.I am still smiling!

18
Melanie
Nov 06, 2008

I'm getting weepy all over again today. I'm so proud of us!

My husband is in the same boat as you. He first moved to the US in '94 and considers himself more American than Mexican. It kills him that he can't vote yet.

19
Hilary
Nov 06, 2008

Thanks for this post. I am so proud, too. And it's awesome and I can hardly believe it's real. But it is.

20
Ashley
Nov 06, 2008

You may not be able to vote (yet) Holly, but you have a powerful voice that makes up for it :) I am so proud of this country right now, if we had slipped down even further I am not sure how much more hope I could have mustered. So relieved it didn't come to that. Now all we have to do is keep our new president safe.

21
Illinois Student
Nov 06, 2008

My guy didn't win...but it was the most exciting presidential election ever, especially since it was the first I got to vote in! I literally got chills when I was in the voting booth. It so crazy to witness history in the making...

22
Alex
Nov 06, 2008

Thank you for writing this- I'm just blown over by the pride, the patriotism I'm experiencing. I ride the 7 bus to work those mornings I can’t face my bicycle. It comes up from south Seattle and traverses rich and poor neighborhoods, the International District, Pioneer square and Downtown. Usually, it is a hateful, loud, messy conglomeration of tired people. Yesterday morning, an older black man sat with a grin on his face. He was dressed for construction work. Out of the blue, he shouted, “YES, we can!”

It was completely infectious- people responded in a chorus of “Yes, we can,” and there was clapping, and there were grins, ear to ear. And we rode on together.

23
Luisa
Nov 06, 2008

Amber - your comment made me cry (good tears!) all over again.

24
gia
Nov 06, 2008

As a European, I'm also happy the way things have turned out, however, amongst all the cheering and celebrations, what really got me, and what really filled me with such a yearning to be an American citizen, was McCain's gracious and noble speech after the result was known. It was pure class, something that I did not expect.

25
Colin
Nov 06, 2008

You know, I think I did enough crying for several people--call me a sap, but the waterworks began about a minute into Obama's speech and didn't stop for a looong while. This happened to be the first presidential election I was able to vote in, and I can't quite describe the feeling of knowing that my lonely little absentee ballot was in some part responsible for turning Colorado blue (finally, thank goodness) on Tuesday. And to have a president to whom I want to listen? I'd almost forgotten what that was like.

It's bittersweet, though. I mean, Proposition 8--'nuff said. Let's celebrate a wonderful victory, but...it's time to get to work.

26
Marcheline
Nov 08, 2008

I cried.