TimN encouraged me to post this reflection from Tuesday, when we met up in Grant Park with CharlettaE and others; sorry for the delay in getting it up here.
Rather than join the rally crowds you saw on TV on Tuesday – I didn’t try to get tickets; they were limited and I felt others deserved them more, among other reasons – I watched returns with friends and joined the group in Grant Park after Obama was declared the victor.
I biked with several friends from our neighborhood, Pilsen, about three miles through East Pilsen and the South Loop on the unusually warm November night. It takes about 30 minutes to bike to the Loop. We passed the entrance to the Dan Ryan Expressway and the cars were bumper to bumper, yet people looked happy. I was leading our group of five bikers, and one woman in her car looked at me and somewhat tentatively said, “Obama.” I yelled back, “Obama!”
The memory I will most take with me is talking with traffic management authority officials once we got closer to the Loop. Usually a staid bunch at best, and surly at worst, I saw a huge smile on the face of a middle-aged woman as we waited at a stoplight. She seemed not to mind in the slightest that she was working at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday. She smiled and smiled at our bunch of young bikers, and said, “Yes, indeed.” We clapped for her and her co-worker, and for people passing, coming from downtown.
The only other time I have smiled at so many people in such a short period of time was at my wedding. Once we reached Grant Park and walked through, large groups of teenagers smiled at us, and cheered, and we smiled back. People of all ages and ethnicities enjoyed camaraderie with strangers. There is no previous experience to which I can compare it.