Heather L. Barmore
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Heather L. Barmore
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Heather Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    One day in November

    "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come."  ~Anne Lamott

    Once someone told me that "you can't spin hope". And I quoted it for months with a snicker. 'Hope' isn't part of the party platform. I've read the party platform and next to 'improving public education' it doesn't say 'dream big' with little unicorns and a heart instead of a dot above the lowercase i. I find myself to be a generally cynical person and pragmatic. The glass is never half full or half empty it's just a glass with water for me to quench my thirst. Which is why when 'hope' was used as a catalyst for people to throw their cautions to the wind and vote for 'change', I scoffed and guffawed and remained a non-believer. 

    There was no push or drive during the last two years, I was just going through the motions of electing a President whose platform most aligned with my ideals. That is until last night when my coworker, Ben, a man old enough to think that he would never see the Berlin Wall come down, started to tell me a story that I had been dying to hear. I was already for the The Drama when out of the corner of my eye I saw something that made me stop everything. It's rare that I'm at a loss for words or that when something exciting or monumental happens that I'm not shouting from the rooftops. I turned to Ben and politely said to him, "Barack Obama is the President". He just stared back at me and said "Wait. What?" 

    "I think that Barack Obama is the President". 

    He stopped the story that I was so dying to hear to turn around and look at the television screen with me. You know those moments that are forever etched in your mind? Those moments when you remember exactly how you were standing, which way the moon was facing and the color of the chipped nail polish on your fingers? Those moments? It's just that...it isn't everyday that I stand in a room full of people, put my head down and my hands on my knees and feel everything inside of me collapse and then cry. Two minutes later Ben went back to telling me the story and I stopped him to say, "Yeah, whatever you're going to say is going to be boring as shit compared to this". But he told me anyway. 

    I called my father later and he was far too quiet than usual. Not the normal banter and telling me that I'm adopted but he was quiet and thoughtful. If you grow up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, you can never really prepare yourself for raising children in the suburbs of Upstate NY. You probably don't envision your black son and daughter discussing political science and supply side economics and the LSATS and their white peers as if they were common place. And you sure as shit don't ever bring yourself to really push your mind to pursue the possibility of a black man living in the White House. 

    But you hope. I hope for a lot of things. That my check clears or that a pair of perfect shoes are available in my size or that one day I'll be able to fit into my favorite dress again. I hope that the Giants win this weekend and I hope there's more wine. I'm neither sentimental nor idealistic, but yeah, sometimes I hope. We all hope every single day because it's what gets us up in the morning: That hope that things will be better or just as good as the day before. That hope that whatever we are working towards - either alone or as a people - will go well and get better. It's just that on any given day we don't realize how much we hope because we never outwardly say it because it's just a little too trite and rainbows and kittens to say that you spend your days hoping. Though I think it's human nature and catching to see one person be optimistic and so it's hard to avoid that drug of good feeling. 

    So would you like to know what my first thoughts were last night? After the tears and my father. It was of my friends, Leah and Simon, and then of every other  parent I know that has young children. But Leah and Simon especially because they're having a baby in six weeks and their baby will never know of anything different than having a black president it will be natural to him and forever be a grip on my heart and something that I remember vaguely thinking about. Just as it will always be baffling to my father that Garrett and I have always experienced integration (its ups and its harsh, harsh downs) as it's always been natural to us but a grip on his heart. 

    There are these little tiny babies who will always think of this - what just happened - as ordinary. And they will have that luxury and life because one day in November several million of us chose to lean on the idea of hope a little more than we had in days, weeks and months prior. It was one day in November when we said we could and so we did. We hoped and then we changed. 
    « Lefty | Main | On this very special episode of today »

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    Reader Comments (42)

    Damnit. And now I am crying all over again. Beautifully written, as always.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeanery

    Hoo, more tearing up at the office.

    Last night my partner turned to me and said 'I'm not sure our own children or our grandchildren will ever understand how truly important this day was, how different everything is now.' This will be normal for them and that new version of normalcy, what I believe that new version will be is worth receiving every ridiculous email from the campaign, worth calling strangers in other states, worth numerous awkward conversation with older, paler members of my family, worth standing up for hope.

    And now, now comes the time for change and sacrifice. And I'm ready to help make a difference.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAbi

    I'm sitting here with a half full glass of wine and tears in my eyes from your passionate and very touching writing. Well said.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterErin

    Well said. I'm tearing up.

    Still catching up on archives, but had to read your post about the election.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJust Shireen

    Beautiful post my friend.

    I am so happy Michael grow up in this country, with this president, for the next 4, hopefully 8 years.

    It's a good day.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjodifur

    This is beautiful!

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

    Wow perhaps you are more interesting and insightful than i had previously thought. Good piece.

    HA! Told you!

    (clearly I am mature as well)

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterG

    Wait a minute. First you tell us your black, and then you tell us you're a cynic? And, that "more wine" thing completely threw me for a loop! I am learning new things about you every day!

    In all seriousness (and you KNOW that's hard for me to say), I keep shaking my daughter and asking her if she REALLY understands what has happened. I want to fill her head with the fact that this memory needs to stay with her forever and ever, and she needs to tell her children and her grandchildren all about it. Saving the front page of the newspaper just isn't enough to savor this historical moment.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMomo Fali

    Beautiful. And I am crying again. I am just so happy that we all tuned in, voted and made this amazing man our next President!

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

    Mom liked today's blog but is upset that you didn't mention her.

    Well tell her she can guest post.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterG

    I thought of that too, last night: the first time that Simone is old enough to know what a president is, Obama will be ours.
    Beautiful post.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlexa

    "The luxury of ordinary"....damn. Damn.
    Quit feckin' makin' meh cry! You're good. You're really good.

    P.S. I love the banter between you and your brother.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Over-Thinker

    Not to get caught up in the details, but are you taking the LSAT, Heather? Law school in your future?

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

    You made me think about how many times a day I say to myself, "I hope..."

    Truly great post.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkate

    Beautifully written.

    It's been so incredible to witness and be a part of history being made.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

    Last night I sat and watched the election with my children that are 7, 5, and 3. They had no idea how wonderful it was to see a black man running for and then winning the presidency. I hope that in the years to come when they are able to vote it wont be so monumental. It will just be two people trying to become the president with no mention of skin color or sex. I am hopeful that our next few generations of voters will still feel like my kids do now. So what if he is black they tell me. That doesn't matter.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy

    I joked that I could not believe I was pregnant last night because MY LORD I NEEDED A DRINK at many points of the night, but I feel blessed in a very deep way that this is the time I'm having my first child. Last night as I cried buckets watching the world change, I was able to touch my belly and say, "Son, good things are waiting for you." It was one of the best nights of my life.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShe Likes Purple

    Many congratulations. Beautifully written.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMandee

    Gorgeous post. I felt EXACTLY this way, holding my two children, watching: the future. THEIR future is forever changed and I feel so blessed to have been there, and to have brought two little people into the world during such a time.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGirlsGoneChild

    Beautiful. And so, so true. My 3 year old's future just got so much brighter in my eyes. I am so proud. And hope? Ah, it's never hung it's hat in my heart for so long! This is overwhelming.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle-lee

    Beautiful. Thanks for writing this piece.
    Glad I found it on Twitter.

    November 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGladys

    Absolutely beautiful, my friend. Walls are crashing down...

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngella

    The hope was felt across the Atlantic too.

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThursday

    Wonderful post. You are so very awesome yourself, missy!

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteruǝʞoʇ

    It's a truly amazing and beautiful time to be alive. I never say crap like that but it's true. I have also simply accepted that I cry more now. Like a lot. Bah!

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHilary


    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCat


    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterK

    My mom grew up in Birmingham too. So I know exactly what you're saying. I've heard the stories, seen the pictures of my teenage mom doing all those things that enabled this to happen. So it's especially a great moment for them and all who struggled.

    But in that moment I had to remind my mom, race is a small part of this. Our president-elect Barack Obama inspired a nation to believe that anything is possible if we just have hope.

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

    This is just lovely HB.

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterslynnro

    So thoughtfully written. I am a Canadian but I too cried when President-Elect Obama gave his acceptance speech. Made me very proud of my southern neighbours.

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlindsayc

    (Randomly found your blog- it's great!)
    Wow, you completely found what I wanted to say. I love your "glass just has water" theory - it's perfect. I, too, struggle with the idea of putting what hope I may have into (ew!) politics. And I never thought of how amazing it will be for a whole generation to take this momentous step in our history for granted. That seems like something to have hope for.
    (Además, yo también vivía en España por 6 meses, y ¡"no pasa nada" es mi frase favorita!)

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTizz

    Much better written than what I tried. And I never even thought of how monumental it is that these new babies will no nothing different. Wow! Just amazing. I'm happy to say I was part of it. A very teeny tiny small part of it, but I was.

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLori

    I love your post.

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShinyung

    An excellent post.

    November 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNeelofer

    Beautiful post.

    November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJanna

    I have read your blog for quite some time now; I guess I could call myself a 'lurker'. All of your posts are wonderful and interesting, but this one made me fall out of my chair. Thank you. You put into words what I could never. When the announcement was made, I was surrounded by all of my closest friends - one with a newborn and two with babies due in December. You have mirrored my thoughts exactly. Not only that, but I am so thankful that our country includes so many people who feel the way I do, to put it in the most simplistic way. My hope is renewed in a way I never thought possible.

    November 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAriel

    Way late in reading this..... but I had to post to tell you it made me tear up. Beautiful.

    November 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

    [...] This one by Heather B. made me cry. [...]

    [...] This gives me chills. Even better, I wrote it and it gives me chills which is narcissism at it’s finest. I can’t believe it’s been a year. It feels like longer and less all at the same time. You all keep asking me how I feel about what’s been going on politically and that is a far longer piece of writing. One that requires a bit of soul searching and coming to grips with the reality of democracy. One the one hand I am a bit angry and perplexed by some of the behavior and on the other I cannot say that it’s not nice to live in a country where we are able to speak out and speak freely. It’s interesting to say the least. I’ll save the rest for later but for now read about that one day in November. Posted by nopasanada @ 10:19 pm [...]

    November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNo Pasa Nada » Blog Arch

    I want a bumper sticker made from your last two sentences. Can I get clearance on that?

    November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

    Yes! LOVE this post! Goosebumps because you sort of echoed something I said after the election--


    Great minds very obviously think alike! Lovely, lovely post! :)

    November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

    It's a year after the fact and I just cried all over again. Fabulous post.

    November 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercolleen

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