But today is such an auspicious day that I am called back. While it's Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, it's really Inauguration Eve. It's the day before the world changes forever. It's the day this country needs, even more than we ever, ever imagined.
Last night, we watched the "We are One" concert, and to no one's surprise I'm sure, I cried through most of it. It started with Bettye LaVette singing Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come," and these lyrics:
"I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me don't hang around
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
And while Bettye (and, unfortunately, Jon Bon Jovi) sang all I saw in my mind's eye was Selma and firehoses. James Meredith and Rosa Parks. And it hit me, for real, that this was REALLY going to happen.
Mostly, in advance of the 2008 election, my focus was on surviving beyond the current administration. This meant ending the war in Iraq, ending warrantless wiretapping, saving habeus corpus, ending extraordinary rendition and torture (TORTURE!). Other, equally troubling events enraged me...like the actions of the religious right, who sought to make non-churchgoers like me lesser than themselves. It included limits on stem cell research, science and the whole Terry Schiavo incident.
And so I searched for a candidate that met my yearning for change. I never, ever supported Hillary and couldn't understand how she was annointed the front-runner before the primaries even started. To me, she was the epitome of status quo. I dabbled with John Edwards, whose "Two Americas" theme always rang true to me. But I didn't think he really could win. So, this left me with Barack. And when he won Iowa, I was sold. Completely and unalterably.
All through the primaries, I knew he could do it. Alone among many friends, I was the most positive. My African American friends were dubious, worried that something terrible was going to happen to snatch this victory away. And for a short time, it appeared that the Clinton campaign might do it.
And looking at the field of Republicans who were lining up against us, I could see that the opposition was going to be weak. Grandpa McCain? It would be a cakewalk. And so it was.
Tonight, I am optimistic and as I type, I am tearing up yet again. Watching the crowds in Washington, I really wish I was there. The joy is palpable. And yet, when I think about standing for hours on end, I KNOW I have a better seat here in my warm living room.
Tomorrow, I am going to wallow in it. We can turn on Wednesday to the important questions of the day. The economy? The wars? They can wait.
For now, I know a change is gonna come. Oh, yes it is.