Wow! NYC was an awesome place to be last night. I watched the election results come in on a big TV at a bar in Gowanus/Park Slope in Brooklyn, with a bunch of classmates. The bar was packed (it was our Plan B, after Plan A turned out to be a complete madhouse and we couldn't get in). All the giant TVs were showing CNN. (Was anyone else surprised to find out that Anderson Cooper is a person? I always thought it was the name of a bank or insurance company, like Goldman Sachs or Merrill Lynch or something. I guess I should watch more TV.) The roar that went up when they projected Obama's victory was incredible. Jet planes taking off! I was really shocked - I've never felt anything like it, especially not anything related to politics. Everyone around me started crying, hugging; the bartenders all did shots.
We stayed until after Obama's speech, then went out into the streets, where the scene was equally amazing. Universal elation. Nobody was home in bed. I walked along Fifth Ave and up to Fort Greene, and on every corner people were clustered together in bouncy little knots, laughing and cheering and doing little victory shimmies. Every car that went by was honking; girls hung out the windows yelling. The whole way down the street, people beamed at each other, we all did, every single person grinned ecstatically at everyone they saw, like we'd all been given super high doses of the same medication and it was totally kicking in. People don't smile at each other that much on the streets of New York, generally speaking.
When I got up to Ft Greene, a huge street party was rocking the main intersection - there was a band, people were dancing. It filled up the whole street. I stood at the edge for a bit, still totally enthralled. Usually, seeing masses of people all in the grip of the same emotion freaks me out. But this was different. This euphoria felt hard-earned and deeply rooted, somehow volatile, and edged with a grim understanding of how terrible the same scene would've looked if things had gone another way. People were thrilled and overjoyed, yeah, but it was a complicated joy, and you couldn't miss the underlying whisper saying it was about damned time.