Monday, November 10, 2008

Change

Two weeks ago, when I mailed off my absentee ballot, I did so with the anticipation of an impending Obama victory, where I'd cry tears of joy at the most important accomplishment a black American could attain in a country where we, for so often and for so long, were not counted as part of "we the people." I would play Sam Cooke's bittersweet "A Change Gon' Come" and call my friends and family back home and hoot and holler and say silly stuff like "us got us a pres'dent, nah!" (I did actually call my father and say that to him).

But when November 4 rolled around, I was nursing the wounds of a three-day old heartbreak, when the day after my birthday I was told by the person I was semi-dating in Bogotá that (long story short) they were going back to their ex because they "couldn't see a future" with me. And it's true, my plans are to move to Brazil at the end of my current work contract. There was nothing but logic and self-preservation behind that statement, that decision. And I was crushed.

Living overseas, it's very easy to drown in loneliness and cultural isolation. I live in a country full of black and brown people who look like me, but don't think at all like me; where the prevailing political tendency is very much to the right; where a large number of people don't bother to even learn my name, choosing the arguably rude appellation "el gringo" when referencing me. In fact, I live in probably the only country where the majority of the people wanted McCain to win the election; though in Colombia's defense, much aid from the US stands to be cut as Obama works to rebuild the country from within and that assistance is the basis for their bias. But in this sometimes hostile cultural environment, I was moved by one person who showed me concern, compassion, and above all, possibilities. No regrets; it was easy to fall in love.

And when the pollsters officially handed over the presidency of the "free world" to Brother Barack, I, caught up in my own personal knot of desire, allowed the single most important political event of my lifetime and of the last forty years to pass with little more than a raised eyebrow and a "good for him." I felt cheated out of the climactic fruition of hope and aspirations, while folks danced through tears in Times Square and in front of the White House. I was completely numb to the seismic paradigm shift whose epicenter lay, that night, in Chicago.

This, my friends, is one of the costs of exile.

And now, a week later, my wounds are healing and I can feel myself rebounding both stronger and wiser (clichés, I know), pero cada vez mejor. And I can feel, belatedly, the change radiating from up north. I can look in the mirror and see, belatedly, an All-American face where before, I only saw a nation-less, black face. Because the Face of America now looks like mine. And, belatedly but nonetheless, I can play "A Change Gon' Come."

Yes it is, y'all.

6 comments:

Fly Girl said...

It's not too late Bro.I'm here in Chicago and I'm still absorbing all of this, it's a process so don't feel like you missed out on something just because you weren't feeling it on Nov.4. I was in shock on Nov. 4, even though I knew he'd win. It's taken days for this to sink in. I'm so sorry for your situation, I know exactly how that isolated feeling can be. If you're moving to Brazil, you're in for a whole lot of fun and acceptance. Where will you live?

Felicia said...

It's in the air!
So glad that you're back and stronger. I too have decided to end my relationship and he and I have not lost our love and respect for each other, we're better friends and that's the real blessing.
I was happy to be back in the US to hug my brother like crazy when Mr. Obama was elected President! We are giving all of our brothers and sisters abroad a huge hug as they too made this nomination possible. You haven't missed out on a thing, YOU helped to make this possible!

Moving to Brazil? You're lucky!
If after six months here I am not closer to where I need to be, well, who knows, I may step into Taiwan, Brazil (if there is money to be made) or who knows? I'm a free woman and the sky is the limit!

Be well always,

Felicia, This Time in Seoul

Darius T. Williams said...

You're right...sooo right - a change is definitely gonna come!

kwerekwere said...

i've been so bogged down in work that i haven't blogged in nearly six weeks in any of my blogs.

i was really "blah" over having voted. [i may or may not have voted for obama; we'll leave it at that.]

but then seeing on the teevee and reading about all these big grown men who were crying and old ladies having fainting spells and the sms that has been going around large parts of africa... i got weepy.

i mean, i'm a bit jaded as i've always had professional black male role models come from a good family, and the only reason that some people refuse to [accurately] call me a trustafarian is because i'm black... my seeing the reactions of other people to the obama victory knocked a whole lot of sense into me wrt the whole "positive black male role model" thing.

but currently i am too african for south africa [this is possible; i may blog about it at some point] and if/when this recession ends, i might make a run for it in the next few years or so. who knows?

Blackgirl On Mars said...

This was a very poignant entry...I'm feeling you on several levels. But cool you take the time out to write...lately, it's a challenge for me.
hugs from Cph,
the lab

Lara Dunston said...

What a post! Wow! We celebrated here in Australia too - not only for the USA, not only for African-Americans, not only for black people in the US and around the world, but we celebrated for the planet. Thank god people came to their senses over there and voted that man in!