Grant Park and the Center of the World


(Photo: Ten seconds later.)

Change in air. Golden ticket. Perfect evening. Carnival atmosphere on walk to Grant Park. Disneyland loudspeaker announcements, “Go right, oh ticketed attendees.”

Dodging Kamikaze piles of horse poo. Hearing rumors among lined-up throng. Slogging through three security checks.

Belt back on. Stepping down to the field. Heraldic columns of light above podium. CNN blow-by-blow on massive Jumbotrons. Five hours on feet. Crushing crowds. Blowing dust. Crappy pizza.

AT&T cell service missing in action.

Worldwide media beginning to work crowd. My legs growing tired, most legs here, far younger, are doing fine.

Tiny early lead for McCain. Then Pennsylvania falls and hope arises. Chilly boredom between CNN top-of-hours.

Dum-dum-da-dum. Stuttering musical intros from CNN pile up. Ohio falls. New Mexico falls. Breath gets shallower among crowd. Is it really happening this fast?

Dominos begin to go. Iowa.  Virginia.  Collective disbelief.  It’s coming now. It’s coming now.

9:59:50 p.m. CST. CNN warns of special announcement.  A quarter million people spontaneously count down in unison, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

Dum-dum-da-dum. CNN Breaking News, Chicago gives Barack Obama to America as its first black President. One tiny second of pause between announcement and realization. Then jubilation.

Bush years over, finally over. The Great Society, at long last, comes to pass.  This native New Yorker proud beyond words to live in Chicago, Illinois.

At the moment, the absolutely undisputed center of the world.

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