"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser


History is happenin' baby girl

Times Square Nov 4, 2008

My wife Judy and I had several business meetings in Manhattan on Tuesday, the day of the election. We were walking through Times Square that night after seeing Horton Foote's play, Dividing The Estate. There was an enormous, rainbow crowd packing the square. It was like New Year's Eve with people spilling out of bars onto the sidewalks and streets, celebrating, laughing and talking to strangers. Lovers and friends were holding hands and leaning against each other. Entire families had shown up for this historic night. Huge neon jumbo-trons were streaming CNN, Fox News, ABC, and The Jon Stewart Show. Everyone was excitedly reacting to each update that popped up on these enormous outdoor screens. It was an amazing spectacle.

We passed an elderly black woman who appeared to be in her 70s. She had her young granddaughter with her who appeared to be no more than seven or so. The little girl was holding her grandmother's hand and tugging on her sleeve, standing on her tiptoes to see what all the commotion was about.

"What's happenin', grandmama?" the little girl asked the gray-haired matron.

The elderly lady looked at the child. "History, baby girl. History is happenin'."

Just then another state was called for Obama. One of the huge screens – it was several stories tall and as wide as the side of the building – flashed a still photo of Obama.

The elderly lady reached down and, with effort, lifted the little girl into her arms. She pointed at Obama's smiling face.

"Child," she said, "I do believe that man is gonna be the next president of these United States."

The little girl looked at Obama, her big brown eyes wide with the wonder of it all. "Really?"

"As God is my witness..." She held the child close and hugged her. Tears of joy welled up in the old woman's eyes.

"The greatness of America," Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, "lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults." (The rumor that Alexis is a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon is incorrect.)

As a people, no matter how badly we lose our way or abuse the many blessings we have been given, we still have the ability to change course. Our great ship of state has turned into the wind and is now moving in a fresh direction with a steady hand and a firm gaze on the horizon.

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