Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I didn't mean to join the crowd that had come chanting down Tate Street

There maybe five hundred of them, maybe even more, fists pounding the air, shouting "O-bam-a" and "U-S-A" and "Yes we can!" I didn't mean to suddenly feel, not like I was watching history, but I was part of it. I thought I'd stand on the sidelines, like the cops who'd come roaring up sirens blaring, and who only recently had still been debating amongst themselves whether to disperse the crowd so cars could pass or block the street so that the cars couldn't attempt to drive through the throng.

I'd come down to Tate Street, a block and a half from where I live, because I thought a drink and the company of engaged and enthusiastic friends, acquaintances and quasi-strangers would keep me from getting too depressed. An hour earlier, I'd found out that doctors are most likely going to be cutting off my father's foot this weekend, or maybe even his whole leg, that the femoral graft he'd had some years ago had failed, as he and I had been warned it eventually would, and that gangrene had set in.

For a moment, I felt horrible about not feeling horrible, and then, for a while, I didn't even feel bad about that. A cute little blond whom I'd only previously known by face came charging across the street to kiss me. People I knew and people I didn't know were clapping me on the back. The cops had gone from looking apprehensive or even annoyed to smiling.

Years ago, I'd sat in the bar that I was now standing outside of and watched the Berlin Wall come down. At the time, I'd idly wondered what it must feel like to be live that, to not just watch it but to be part of it.

And now, for however briefly, I knew, or thought I knew, and the rush was so powerful it was almost scary.

I don't know what I'll feel tomorrow. Probably, after I've called my father's hospital room and talked to him, the dreadful things he's facing will be real to me, realer than the crowd, realer than the history. But not yet, and if I'm lucky, as selfish as I feel for saying this, maybe not until I wake up.


Blogger Lex said...

Nice post, Ian. Best wishes to your dad.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Roch101 said...


I didn't know you had a blog. Will you add it to We101?

11:56 AM  
Blogger Ian McDowell said...

Lex, thanks. He'll need them. They're apparently still not sure whether they're going to amputate or not.

Thanks Roch,it's done.

3:43 PM  
OpenID jeffreysykes said...

Ian: Best wishes also to your dad. I've had some relatives in a similar situation this year, and so I hope it works out.

6:21 PM  
Blogger englishdan said...

Yay impromptu Tate Street liberal-fest. I'm sorry I missed it. (and not just because I might have been kissed by a random cute blonde.)

We had a similar experience at the Obama rally in September. We only went along to look at the queue: it was huge. We decided to walk down a few blocks and see how far it went.

Suddenly, a terrific mass of people came surging up the street. The queue was getting so long, the police had told everyone at the back to quit waiting and move on up. We caught the front of that wave, and we were swept with the crowd all the way to the Depot where Obaba and Biden were speaking.

It was all so thrilling and unintended. It's not often you get to be feel part of a historic moment like that. Let's just hope the reality of the next 4-8 years lives up to the promise.

And yes, that sucks with your dad. ((manly hugs))

11:48 PM  

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