The plans were made on line, in boasting terms meant to humiliate Republican-leaning strangers on a chat board. I would be in Chicago's Grant Park on election night to celebrate the victory of Barack Obama , junior U.S. Senator of Illinois.
But the plans were never finalized, words were mentioned to my loving wife, and to my Mother at her home at dinner on the Saturday night before the election.
I have known from the days I laid eyes on my darling wife that we would spend the rest of our lives together. Just as we both knew that on election ight, we would be very content to stay home and watch our favorite news network, MSNBC- with our fingers double crossed as we would root home our native son, Obama.
It was with not much sadness, that we realized we would not be travelling the 7 miles from our home to downtown Chicago. After all, we had not been granted a ticket by the Obama campaign -- since we had not contributed with volunteer hours or money.
Monday was a long day at work for each of us, as we raced home through traffic after I collected her from her job. We both would see the latest news on our favorite shows, but go to bed early as we had planned to wake at 4 to be in line by 6 a.m. to vote.
Tuesday we woke, drank our coffee, walked the dog and prepared our lunches- just like any other day. The only difference is that we did this one hour earlier than usual, so we gave ourselves enough time to vote before we went to work.
As we showed to our voting place 5 minutes past six, we encountered a line thirty deep. 45 minutes later - we had voted , each of us with a warm smile and a warm feeling inside of us equally reflected to the one we both love - each other.
If Monday was a week inside a day at work, then Tuesday was three months in a day. Scanning Rasmussen on line- telling my coworkers the funny story how Bill Ayers had shown up to vote at Obama's own polling place a mere 15 minutes before the Obamas did. Then a burning feeling inside as a coworker questionned me about going to the rally tonight. I stifled a groan- and let my close knit group know that I highly doubted that we would attend. That we'd be happier staying home watching our trusted commentators interpret the events of the evening.
I skipped from work 15 minutes early without a word after sneakily calling my wife to make sure she had the same idea.
Alas, the 35 minute trip home was eerily quiet, we made the normal small talk as we proclaimed how we both couldn't wait to be home in front of the TV for the results.
We made very good time home, plenty of time for me to walk the dog and be back to see the first results. As the night slowly proceeded, with a tuna melt dinner splashed in between hushed tones about the up to date results.
My wife ad I were then soon out and out cranks, one destroyed remote control and a few nasty words later- I found myself at the safe haven of CBS Sportsline- once again avoiding significant time with the love of my life.
I had come to the board to slash and burn, one by one the repubs. would be crushed I avowed. Then in the middle of my very first post- Ohio was called for Obama. And I had stated for the record that I was on my way to Grant Park.
I ran screaming to my wife's room- but she wasn't talking- we both knew we had no real money to go and spend. To go downtown without tickets meant we would have to go to a bar and part with money we don't really own. I persisted, not fully knowing how my love was battling a bad cold and coupled with her asthma- she would have a tough time making the trek. I fumed, warning I would leave alone.
My wife suffers fools very well, especially myself. She began to get dressed for the trip as I fumbled around not being able to find my shoes. She had been ready to leave a full 10 minutes before I, by the time we were ready to leave- I still had no plan, only will borrowed from my sweet and my own hardheadedness.
Then inspiration, instead of walking 15 minutes to the subway (EL train), we drove to the next stop nearer the city with more ample , free parking.
Then 12 stops remained until we were a mile from Grant Park. But as we travelled in near silence on the subway, I tried to find a better path which would mean less walking.
I found an alternative route which would have us closer to the Park, but this also involved more time underground. I made the latter decision, as we changed trains the excitement built slowly... Two CTA employees boarded to do a security sweep and more and more people were there at every stop. Many returning from Grant Park- obviously downcast.
I knew that the chances of us getting into the rally proper was slim to none, so I decided that we would try and sneak our way in and I reassured my love that we would get in by hook or by crook.
Finally , our stop, as my wife negotiated the three flights up excitement built- it was now 45 minutes since we heard any news at all. We hit the street and immediately a huge roar was heard from the area near the lake. Vendors lined up on each side of the sidewalk selling Obama tshirts and campaign buttons.
My wife needed a break, so I stopped and poked my head into a police command center and saw Roland Martin with a headset, but below in bold type:
OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT.
I ran for my wife and handed over the news as she smiled and I watched her eyes light up as she questionned me and demanded how I knew and where I'd seen it, by the time my answers were formulated- car horns everywhere made a symphony of sound- and she knew and clutched to me tighter as we both waved our heads around in a circle in order so we should know exactly where we stood when we first heard the momentous news.
Our walk was approximately 1/2 a mile to the Southwestern edge of Grant Park, five massive spotlights a la ground zero shone near the lake ENE of whre we entered. The park was crowded but walking was easy as jubilant crowds of all colors and creeds exchanged high fives and were no more embarrased to be screaming out loud about electoral votes and concession speeches than they would about any of our sports teams.
As we walked the perimeter of the park following the spotlights, the crowds became thicker, but still there was no problem negotiating the park by foot. Grant Park is seperated by a rail line with approx. ten to twelve tracks. To pass over these tracks, there are foot bridges spaced maybe a quarter of a mile each. All foot bridges we passed were manned by Chicao's finest.
My plans for my wife and I being a part of the rally were slim I soon realized.....
(part II tomorrow )