Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Are you America?

Of all the unexpected occurences that fill my life as I tread on the path that I forge myself as I go along- I never would have expected to one day be able to say I had seen the president of the United States in person. Not only because it is so far fetched but because its not particularly a life goal I aspire to, and seeing the American president sounds like its something that would only happen if you really, really want it to.

Before someone calls me out on a technicality- yes, I do count seeing Obama the day before the elections, November 3rd, to count as seeing the U.S president.

Zeinab and I ended up at the last Obama rally of the presidential campaigns in Charlotte, North Carolina. In the span of a few hours we had met a group of Canadians in the lobby of our hotel in Chapel Hill, NC, who had actually driven down from Ottawa to help campaign for Obama and were about to take the 2 hour drive from Chapel Hill to Charlotte in order to see the rally, and do some volunteer campaigning in the last hours where their efforts could still make a difference on what they called "the road to change". Zeinab and I were welcomed by Mitch, Bart, Tyler, Michael and Adam to join in. We went to Charlotte, we canvased, we door-to-doored, we got volunteer tickets, we went to UNC Charlotte, we shuttled, we queued, we stood in the rain, and in the end, we were only 10 feet away from the man who would be the president 24 hours later.

Because we had canvased for the campaign, we were given priority tickets and ended up so close to the podium I could see Barak Obama's facial expressions, I could see his pupils darting from side to side, and slow down as he spoke of the passing of his grandmother. I could see his hand gestures as he articulated the promises we will inevitably discover if he will keep. And I stood in the midst of the ritual chanting his supporters boomed, in unison, totally engulfed, although I was not one of them. So this is what its like to have a leader, I thought, to want one, or respect one, or find one. Interesting. Everything in America is fun though, what would elsewhere be an intensely policed and secured gathering, burdened by the idolization of national emblems, in America, is a toe-tapping Country music, and people throwing back small American flags back into the crowd to fight over, while the rain hits down on cotton caps with Obama's smiling face printed on the front in a combination of bright green and red, and puns like "Barack to the Future." Someone passed me a flag to, because my hands were busy holding the camera, it was thoughtful of that stranger I suppose. I took it from them kindly, but I didnt know what to do with it. I stood there filming and tapping my toes and rocking in the rain, totally engulfed, but not one of them.

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