Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Night to Remember

A Palermo apartment overheated by the massive glob of Americans & Argentines and made warmer by the oven working over-time to keep the swing-state food warm (genius idea donated by the Cunninghams). There were jalapeno poppers from New Mexico, corn from Indianna, rice and beans from Florida, an oreo cream pie from Ohio, and of course, the Victory Lemon Meringue Pie. CNN was projected onto the blank white wall, and Celeste, our amazing host, was running around making sure everyone was set with food and drink. The hours ticked by: one, two, three ,until it was four in the morning, and although we all had jobs, classes, and appointments to make in just a few hours, nobody cared about time or lack of sleep on this particular Tuesday night.

Watching one of the most historic elections in history thousands upon thousands of miles from home was a unique experience. I think that perhaps Nick and I feel a special kinship with other Americans here, simply because we are all in the same boat, and so far from our native port. Throughout the last leg of this election, that kinship has made watching the debates and now the final moment of truth electric. Living in Argentina has made Nick and I fall in love with this country, undoubtedly, but also become thankful and respectful of our country as well. Argentine friends share stories of being paid to vote for certain candidates, of seeing their savings disappear as the peso becomes devalued, of rampant cronyism accepted by other government officials and unable to be commented on by government-controlled media. These stories leave us in awe of the resilience of the Argentine people, of their amazing ability to keep moving on, to stay so welcoming, despite the disillusion that has colored their lives. And these stories also remind us to be thankful and respectful of the institutions and relative stability we experience in the US--for the relative freedom to vote for the candidate of our choice, for the relative transparency through which our government operates, and for the relative freedom to express discomfort and disagreement with the government, and therefore in a way govern those that govern. With these feelings of respect and gratitude comes a great desire to show the world our best face, the face we were so proud to see named the next President of the United States on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008.

As Barack Obama was announced the winner, Celeste's apartment erupted in screams. I could not stop crying, my friend Rebecca could not stop crying, a handful of our crowd ran to the balcony to shout in celebration, and my friend Elena uncorked the champagne. Nick and I looked at each other and remembered to remember this moment forever.

At 4 am, Nick and I walked to Avenida Santa Fe and caught the #64 bus home. As we sat in the bucket seats of the bus, we felt our repressed fatigue hit us full force, as the anticipation and excitement melted away into relief and happiness. The next day my students greeted me with ¨Obama!¨ shouts and we spent the first moments of English lessons watching our President-elect's acceptance speech on youtube. It is wonderful to feel proud of our country's decision, and it is wonderful to proudly represent two votes of that decision here in Argentina.

1 comment:

Mittens said...

Your guys' election night sounds amazing! I thought of you when we were all out celebrating on U Street. People were dancing on top of bus shelters, the street was blocked off for several blocks...it was a great night indeed.