Sara Rashid reports from Grant Park

Our very good friend Sara Rashid was able to attend Obama’s acceptance speech yesterday. I wanted to share her take:

From Sara:
…it was a miraculously warm night out. Beautiful. I’ve never felt so comfortable surrounded by 100,000 strangers. I hate crowds and am always intimidated by them – so much so that, to my embarassment, I actually asked if we could stay home last night. I was scared. Coleman said I was welcome to stay home, but that if I did, I’d miss this century’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I had to give him that one. It turned out to be like being with family. Absolutely nothing but good feelings, warmth, comraderie, and manners. In that massive heep of humans, any and every time someone’s toe was inadvertantly stepped on you heard a prompt apology. That sh*t doesn’t even happen in church. It was amazing.

We declined to push through the masses to be on the “ground floor” (eek! Oprah vibes!), and opted rather to stay on the sidelines. We had a perfect view of everything. Coleman’s sister had her camera; promised to send me pics (which I will forward to you). We had a perfect view of the hotel Obama was staying at (allegedly) and you could see shadows of people on the giant front balcony. Coleman surmised they were Secret Service Snipers, and I doubt he was wrong. That + the amount of police + the constant helicopter rumbling made for quite an intimidating scene, but still, nothing but smiles and ease.
It stunned us how quickly Obama’s victory was announced. He won Virginia (to a roar from the crowd), I texted you, and then BOOM! – the CNN screen we were all watching displayed his victory. It was so unexpected there was a pause in the crowd – and then elation. I cried. I think everyone cried. I’m sure we all had our different reasons. I cried because I was amazed at the possibilities in a lifetime. And because I was proud of him. And scared for him. And because I was proud of us. And scared for us. I cried because I was moved, and happy, and sad (thinking about his grandmother’s death), and, frankly, because I was surprised. I really didn’t have faith. But I do now 🙂
The trip home was gleeful, to put it mildly. People were honking their horns and playing frickin’ bongos and dancing in the streets. Strangers were hugged and high-fived. Donuts were purchased from convenience store employees wearing Uncle Sam hats and screaming right along with the patrons. Every now and then, you’d hear a champagne cork pop. Believe it or not, not once did that sound make me jump. That’s the calming affect this news had, joyous as it was. Suddenly, it felt like things might be alright. On that way home I also realized that not once in my life have I seen our president on T.V. or heard his voice on the radio and been proud. I am now. It’s new and strange and powerful and very, very exciting.

Oh yes, as I’m recalling it all I should say that I thought McCain’s concession speech was dignified, respectful, wise, and kind. It should be noted that our crowd applauded him. To my delight, it should also be noted that our crowd booed Palin 🙂

I woke up this morning unable to process how I felt. I’ve never felt a grand-scale optimism like this. I’m so glad Obama’s speech mentioned the failures and “missteps” that will undoubtedly occur, because I don’t want anyone in the world to think we misinterpret this man as a diety. He’s just a man. But quite a man he is.