I want to write all of this down before I forget it, just so I can have this experience, these memories, for always.
So. Without further ado, Election night 2008.
My journalism class ended at 5:45 p.m. My friend and I raced back to our dorm's common room where we immediately grabbed our laptops, turned the TV to CNN, and sat down. We didn't get up again for 5 hours.
Slowly, as more classes got out and people finished dinner, more people filtered in. Our common room is not too big, and people were crammed in. Some stayed in the entire evening, others drifted in and out. The air was filled with anxiety, nerves, and craziness. The excitement was palpable. Some were confident in Obama's win, but others (like me) weren't so sure. But we were glued to the TV. We kept it to CNN most of the time but occasionally switched to FOX and CBS and stuff just to see what they had been predicting. The entire time I was on video chat with my parents back in Texas. They were watching NBC and then PBS, so they kept us updated with what those two stations were predicting.
The updates for major predictions were coming about every hour on the hour, so we'd all get quiet in anticipation of what would come next. After each prediction, with the early few states, we weren't too concerned with what was going on. Each time a new state would come in, we'd shade our election map either red or blue and update the electoral vote counts on each white board. We didn't get really excited until first Pennsylvania went Obama (load cheers and applause), and then Ohio (louder cheers and applause). In between the predictions, we'd joke around and laugh at CNN's intense graphics packages (holograms? really, CNN?). By about 9:45 or 10:00, things were looking good for our guy. We were hopeful, but not certain, what would happen, and the excitement in the room got a bit crazier.
By about 10:40 or so, Obama was just on the verge of the 270 votes needed. The next wave of states, including California, Oregon, and Washington, were almost sure to be Obama's. That would put him over 270. As the clock ticked toward 11 p.m., CNN ran a countdown. We counted down, too.
And then the headline across the bottom of the screen: "CNN Predicts: OBAMA IS PRESIDENT-ELECT." California had come in solid Obama and had put him well over 270.
I can't even tell you how crazy we went. We could hear the screams and cheers from the floors above and below. We all jumped up and went wild, hugging and shouting. Even our normally-quiet R.A. was screaming. We were beyond ecstatic. We watched the TV in wonder as Grant Park erupted. We could hear the streets of Our City going wild, too. Horns were honking, people were yelling--it was incredible.
Once we got word that McCain had called Obama to concede, we broke out the bubbly. Cups of sparkling apple cider and grape juice were passed around to everybody.
When McCain came on for his speech, we all sat and watched. We were quiet, and just appreciated the the grace and respect with which he conceded the race. We all agreed his speech was very, very good, and we felt he left the race with his head held high, and with dignity.
Then the wait for Obama's speech began. It seemed like it took forever for him to come up. A bunch of people wanted to go down to the streets (we're in buildings in the middle of the city) to see all the action, but eventually we all agreed to wait until after his speech. And I'm so glad we did. Most everyone (including the boys) was awestruck and in tears by the time it was over.
Even more incredible, look who stopped by to watch with us:
After the speech, it was time for us to head down to the streets. The elevators were jammed to get downstairs and it took quite a while. But then we were released. Into the streets we ran, joining the hundreds and thousands of college students and adults everywhere. We followed a general crowd a few miles up the road, chanting "OBAMA! OBAMA!" and screaming to everyone who passed. We hugged complete strangers and I think I high-fived about 840 people total.
Sorry for the blurry/dark videos as I only had my cell phone with me, but I think you can get the general idea of the mass pandemonium outside. Also pardon my screaming. I was a little excited.
There were police everywhere, but to me it seemed as if they were just taking an "It's okay, as long as they're not doing anything illegal" approach to the situation. They pretty much just let us be wild and noisy and crazy. We ended up at a pool-type thing outside a building and eventually they shoed us away from there, but other than that, they were totally cool. We finally, in a mood of absolute exhaustion and happiness, straggled back to our dorms around 3 a.m. We ended up watching CNN for a while longer waiting for them to call North Caroline, Missouri and Indiana (which they didn't do for quite a while). A few people pulled all-nighters, but the roomies and I were in bed about 3:30 or 3:45.
Our alarms going off at 6:30 were very, very rude. We all hit snooze a time or two and then dragged our sorry, happy selves out of bed. It felt like my entire body was weighed down. I was one of the few ones who were sober and not high last night (why drink away election night? I want to remember everything that happened) but still I felt like I had a massive hangover in the morning. I barely made it through my 8:30 a.m. class, but I managed to stay awake. Then at 9:45 I came back to my dorm and fell into blissful slumber until 11, when I had to get ready for my next class.
The rest of the day was classes and just generally happy students. Everybody was excited. What an amazing, incredible 24-48 hours we've been living. Though our Obama high was dampered by the SHITTY banning happening in California, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas, we are still full of HOPE that these decisions will be overturned SOON. Discrimination is discrimination, plain and simple, and there is absolutely NO excuse for that in this day in age. But as I have to keep reminding myself, we've got to take this one day at a time. My father tells me I need patience, but I told him I don't have the patience for patience.
But in the meantime, it's nearly 1 a.m, and I'm utterly exhausted. I'm going to bed to dream of a future under President Obama--what a wonderful dream it is. Plus D.'s rescheduled to come in this Friday and I am positively beside myself with excitement.
P.S. There are so many more pictures of our evening on Facebook. If you're interested in being my friend, e-mail me and I'll tell you my name. (Note: Sorry to be rude, but I'm only approving the bloggers I know really well on Facebook. Please don't be offended if I turn you down!)
This week? The absolute best.