Still on the road, still working long hours, still no art...
But I have had a few minutes in the evenings for commenting.
And we did pause for lunch yesterday where there was a big TV so our whole team of people could see and hear the oath taking and the speech. We didn't hear the speech well, just bits and pieces over the lunch crowd, but it was moving enough.
Today I took the paper with me to a solitary, quiet dinner (one crowd gone with three days of meetings over - another smaller crowd tomorrow - but peace in between) - and I walked from the hotel to a Frontera Mex-Mex Grill next door. I'm in GA - Lisa's and MathMan's current state, though I'm in a more metro area. Keep that in mind, and if you've read much of Lisa's and MathMan's blogs, some of the rest of this post may sound familiar.
All the staff in the restaurant were Latino. They sang with the music (in Spanish, of course) and called and joked with each other. Like so many Latino's I've met, they were quick to smile, looked me right in the eye, and were affectionate and open. I love this result of the cultures that raised the people I met tonight. So I was not surprised when my wait person, a good looking, sunny young man with a ready grin, on hearing it was my first time in a Frontera, made an animated recommendation of a particular meal. I have a long standing view that God is acting through little pointers like this, and even if my meal choice is a relatively trivial thing, I have learned to follow the lead. The Tacos Alambra were, indeed, extremely good, especially when I squeezed the lime all over them. Wow.
Before my order came, though, I opened the paper to the Obama parade and the Obama address. I was planning to read the address in full. My wait person was back with my water, and he asked me what I thought of Obama being President. It was asked openly, with genuine interest in my reply - but it was the first guarded face I had seen in the restaurant. I said I was excited, and relieved, and I was elated that we had elected an African American, because it was about time. He lit up. He said that so many of the people he had asked were not happy about it. I recalled where I was - GA. I thought about most of the clientelle of this restaurant, even here in the more urban Metro Atlanta area. I thought of several posts of Lisa's and MathMan's, about encounters at their jobs. All in a moment. Then he was asking me why I was excited. So I waxed eloquent about the Obamas, and the hope for repairing the American image abroad, and our unity. I think I got a little ahead of his English a few times, but I didn't tone it down for him at all. He drank it in. There was a warmth of exchange, and lots of use of the word, "friend" the rest of the evening when he came by to check on me, which he did often.
Until I began reading the address. He left me uninterrupted for that - I think he could see what I was reading, or perhaps my posture spoke to him, because I was very focused and lost in the words.
I still can't believe we actually managed to elect this man. I know his road will be tough, and I know that his compromises and positions on things will be complex, and not popular with people on either the extreme left or on the extreme right. But I deeply believe this man will do the right things, and we will all be better for it. Because of our position in the world, the whole planet will be better for it. And I think we will follow him. We can all learn from his example - such as his breaking with tradition and walking the Bushes to their helicopter. Another gesture for unity, for moving beyond divides.
I had a rush of fear and joy and admiration when I saw the photos of the Obamas out walking on the parade route. I hope we are always deserving of such trust and selfless courage. I pray God will protect these people and keep them safe and whole, and that we will, in increasing numbers, have the good sense to listen and get behind his ideas and his leadership.
I am excited about this presidency because the things I love most about people - like the warmth and openness of the young man who recommended my dinner, his courage to keep asking people for their thoughts - will prosper far more in this atmosphere than in any other I can recall. There is a gentle and decent human being in the Whitehouse - a strong, principled, thoughtful and brilliant couple, very much in love with each other and with their girls - and that will spill over into politics, policy, and posture, everywhere.