You are staring at the bulletproof glass on the television. And remembering the first time that you heard of Barack Obama. Because it was over four years ago on a mailing list for a friend’s band from Chicago. Music that would give you the chills the moment you heard it. The same way as when you heard that Barack Obama would be the next president. And how there was this eruption of cheers from around you.
But back then they were just whispers. This man from Chicago who is running for senate could be our nation’s first black president. And they seemed like unlikely whispers. Because it was something that you didn’t think you would see in your lifetime.
But you were more jaded then. You hadn’t heard him speak yet. Your own notions of “optimism” and “direction” were just beginning to take form. And how Barack Obama would come along and call those same notions “hope” and “change”. These one syllable rallying cries for the masses. And you didn’t yet realize how much those notions matter. You didn’t realize how he would come to represent so much more than just the possibility of being our nation’s first black president. Though in some frustrating ways that might have been enough.
And so as he speaks to the nation, you can feel the excitement build around you. Though some part of you still can’t take your eyes off the bulletproof glass. Because people on one side and hope on the other. And because hope behind bulletproof glass in some ways doesn’t feel like hope at all. And so it is a struggle.
Later, you’ll wonder if other people noticed the glass and if you think it’s good or bad. Maybe good and bad, you’ll finally decide. Because there are more days ahead. More time for hope. More time for change.
But still at the end of the night when your friend’s professor asks what it means to you, you aren’t sure how to answer. Because so much still lies ahead. But maybe that is it. Because though we all may choose different words for “hope” and “change”, these are times when we can all look forward.