Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pamela and Barack

It was like Christmas morning last night. My oldest sister Pam called me late last night to tell me of the experience of being at an Obama rally.
My other sisters know Pam has never been the least bit interested in politics before this year. This year, she is a volunteer for a presidential campaign. She sounded surprised when I told her how proud I was of her getting out of her 28th floor Detroit apartment and doing her part for the country.
Silly me, I was concerned Sunday when I couldn't reach her on the phone. Later that evening, she called to tell me she spent the day blowing up beach balls and counseling others on signmaking. She sounded totally invigorated describing the scene of people rushing around and smiling, working on a common cause.
During the network broadcast Monday night, I thought I saw her in the crowd clutching and feverishly waving an American flag, something else I'd never seen her do. She said she would try to get to the seats behind the stage so we could see her. Turned out it wasn't her but I knew Pam would have a great night, on or off camera.
And she did. Pam, or Tee as we call her, stood in the volunteer area before the rally admiring the physique of a tall man.
"He had his hands in his pants pockets so you could see the muscles in his thighs," she said wistfully. Being a fan of goodbodies, I totally appreciated her report.
And then he turned around.
It was Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons standing no more than 7 feet in front of her.
Was this heaven?
Then the crowd erupted and she turned to see if Sen. Obama had arrived. He had, and made his way through the crowd to shake her hand. Okay, not exactly but that's how it felt to her. He walked up, shook her hand with both of hers and said something her brain registered as English but she has no idea what he said. She offered her Audacity of Hope book to him ... and he signed it.
And there she stood, absorbing the reality of it all. Never cared about politics, never been to a rally from the inside, never met an actual candidate and there she was, staring at the first candidate of color who was actually charted to accept his party's nomination to become president of the United States.
She was so wafted away by the events of the day she missed her stop on the People Mover tram to take her back home. A group of women chattered near her about what they had gathered from the experience. Tee blew them away when she showed them her autographed book. I would have been afraid I'd get robbed of something so valuable but I think she would have snapped necks last night to keep that book.
Oh yeah. She also happily reported that Al Gore is even more devastatingly handsome than she thought.
"He is NOT fat," she insisted. "That man is foine."
We both laughed but I was pleased that she had finally brought something into her life that made her feel alive after a tumultuous one turned her against reaching out to others. She was laughing, she was exuberant, she was the excited big sister I remember being jealous of when we were kids because her 6-year advantage gave her experiences I could only hope for.
Damn if she didn't have another one....

1 comment:

MadPoliSci said...

I've seen your sister's reaction to Barack Obama up close, Shauna.
He was doing an appearance as part of The Audacity of Hope tour at the Free Library of Philadelphia and I was hanging out back stage with some friends of mine.
The senator was walking around, shaking hands with people. When he walked into a reception room filled with some of the most high powered women in Philadelphia, I could have sworn that I saw them melting into the floor as he spoke.
And then there were the three little old ladies who were usually law abiding citizens who told me that they were going to sneak into the library because they just had to see him.
I remembered writing a column in which I said that if someone could get these kinds of reactions from people in a tough town like Philly, there might be something different here.
Turns out I was right.
Funny thing is, he looks like a guy I used to date. I guess in 2008, nerd is sexy.