by Latoya Peterson
The night Barack Obama won the election, I was pissed off about losing my wallet.
Having accepted a last minute invite to an election night party down in Dupont Circle, I hastily threw hat, umbrella, wallet, gloves, and Ipod into a large bag, dressed in layers, and headed out into the evening drizzle to hang with friends as the ballots were counted. My homegirl Spiff and I entered the scene, bypassing a frustrated Republican looking for a red celebration and a guy playing both the guitar and a harmonica, trying to rhyme words in his improvised song with Obama, McCain and Palin.
The room was electric, supercharged by the palpable excitement in the air at the possibility of an Obama win. Though there were two different drink specials offered for party goers, four out of five drinks were of the “Blue Victory” variety. Unfortunately, so many people and so much energy, combined with so many azure colored concoctions would have eventually spelled disaster for my winter white coat. I crammed it into my bag and kept partying, until the open bar closed and I realized I was out of money. And metro fare home. And an ID with which to buy more drinks.
I checked the screen and saw that John McCain had an electoral college lead over Obama. Open bar closed early, the free food had run out, so we decided to head down to Kramer’s to grab some food and drink, and perhaps the next part of the election cycle on CNN. Luckily for me, some old friends were on duty, so discounted drinks and apps were on the menu.
We sat in the bar, sipping on Obama-tinis, hanging with my friend Abby who brought maps of the United States with her. She also held blue and red colored pencils, so she could color in the correct states in real time. While Abby is the most cynical person I know, she seemed strangely upbeat. She was unshakeable in her faith that Obama would win – her reasoning was that all other alternatives were too grim. We ordered another round.
The night wore on, the electoral college count started creeping toward Obama, and more friends dropped by to drink to with us. Abby was still shading in the electoral college votes. Little snatches of excited conversation rippled through the bar, debating ideas and policy changes. Then, suddenly, Obama pulled ahead. 270 was close, then in reach, then surpassed.
The whole bar broke out in an uproar, screaming and shouting at the television. I looked over at Abby, surprised to note that tears were streaming down her face. Her eyes refused to move from the screen, but she was still clutching the colored pencils.
“We did it?” she asked in disbelief.
“Yeah, I guess we did,” I replied, equally shocked.
For a few moments, we all just watched the screen, waiting for someone to come and take it back. To say that the projections were off or something. I can’t speak for anyone else in the bar that night, but I know my shock was genuine. I had never thought Obama would lose – the other offerings were just too grim to consider. But, somehow, it had never entered my mind that he would win, either. I personally was expecting another Supreme Court battle. I figured we’d have a President somewhere around December, give or take vote challenges and other shenanigans.
But Obama won.
When we got over the shock, popped some champagne, and settled into listen to McCain’s concession speech.
After that, we headed home. Weaving through the happy hornblowers downtown, we crept back into the suburbs around one. I texted my boss and told her I was pre-emptively calling in drunk. I turned off talk radio because it was bothering me, listening to the pundits shift to talking about all the problems Obama had to face when he was literally thirty minutes into the President Elect role. I came home, listened halfway to Obama’s speech, and fell into bed.
The next day I woke up feeling like shit.