Life seemed to turn on a dime last night as the election results came in. I was at my usual haunt, a bar in Greenpoint called Black Rabbit. The night went from tense and nervous at around 7pm to nervous and cautious optimism at 9pm to awed and excited anticipation at 10pm, which exploded into utter jubilation at 11, when every news organization simultaneously called it for Obama. Surrounded by friends, the cheers of like-minded people, and a sense that we may yet crawl out of this horrible cesspool we’ve dug for ourselves, I started to overload. (As McCain gave his concession speech, a huge fire down the street further added to our jitters.)
Today, speaking to my hardcore neo-conservative father and reading the reactions of the now disenfranchised right, I found the resentment I had towards them not fade, but morph into relief that they no longer seemed to matter. I no longer need to fear their ignorance and their selfishness, for the moment at least. Nonetheless, an unholy generational gap has emerged, between those of us who have had friends in other countries before we were allowed to drive, who have grown up in a world of sushi and MySpace and AIM, and those who live in isolation and fear. That such isolation and fear and their violent, reactionary consequences have taken root in a generation that once touted themselves as one of universal love and acceptance will become the joke of history. That America has finally found its footing again is proof that we can reinvent ourselves. I’d be lying if I wasn’t worried about someday turning into something so foolish and outdated myself. But for today, I’ll let the tears flow as I hear stories of inner city, minority youth dreaming of becoming a lawyer, and never fully comprehending the extent of suffering, the small-mindedness, the racism that was overcome. To not revel in this joy today is to deny these things. To not appreciate the difference this seemingly minor change in psychology will make in the lives of people worldwide and others’ perception of us as a people is to turn one’s back on dreams of a better world.
I’m currently obsessed with a new band called Passion Pit, which I first heard on KEXP’s Song of the Day podcast. It’s really experimental electronica, with a gritted-teeth sort of intensity and the innocence of 80s pop. Visually, it’s the sort of music that conveys a sunny fall day on a pleasant street somewhere, as you watch the world go by. I haven’t been this excited about a new band since MGMT.
As I lay back listening to this warm swimming pool of comfort and contemplating a world that suddenly seems like it holds promise of decency and forward thinking, I’m overcome by an utterly alien sense of relief and joy. I don’t know what to do with it. It’s scaring me.