>We considered going to Washington D.C. for the big day; my African American husband grew up in D.C. so we have places to stay and invites, but my husband wanted to be home. And home is TriBeCa. He wanted to be home to hear every word and cry and cry when he needed and wanted to. And so we watched and held hands and then, overcome, I had to go out for a walk.
The streets of downtown Manhattan, or my tiny corner of it, were filled with neighbors congratulating each other. The smiles of every person I encountered were street wide and folks were stopping and telling stories.
One woman, of Jewish heritage, told me about when she was an olive skinned, eight year old girl and she was turned away from a swimming pool in the south when she was visiting friends. She recalls how humiliating it was to have her bathing suit pulled up at the edges to prove she was white. “How did African Americans feel to have this happen again and again? And now today.” Her face was shining with hope.
Local school kids poured out at 3p.m. holding hands with caregivers or parents and they were all telling stories of the day’s speeches watched, and the stories of slavery taught and unknotted and repositioned by a new generation. The big kids, bounded out of Stuyvesant High School with visions of power re-configured in their over-achieving heads. All the talk on the street was Obama and the things we were seeing today.
A real estate agent friend stopped me, eyes brimmed over and reddened from a day’s celebrating, “ Go walk by my building on White Street and see the flag I hung out. I am so proud.”
This is not the normal rhythm of TriBeCa; patriotism is often defined in different stripes, not flags and faith, but in a pride that we follow a different drummer, and yet today once again, we are all proud to be Americans.
There is a jaunty clip clop to our steps and the joy spread over the faces of those who stepped out of Puffy’s Tavern after watching the speech was palpable. It is beyond the glow of good beer, or a pop or two at mid-day. NO this was real. The difference between fervor and faking it.
Obama was clear that we are in perilous times. We understand that down here, but we are also entitled to have a renaissance based on belief in the real American Dream not the watered down, badly polluted version we have been wincing at for eight years.