November 07, 2008
At piano lessons
My kids' piano teacher is beautiful woman with a lovely Russian accent who grew up in Cold War Country. She's recently been working with Shaggy Hair Boy and With-a-Why on a song they are playing together. Sitting in the studio with my laptop, I can hear their music and their chatter. My boys talk to her just the way they talk to their aunts. She'll tease Shaggy Hair Boy for the way he'll just grab anything handy to use as a belt: a measuring tape, for instance, or a telephone cord. She gives him effusive compliments about his long hair and the way he can improvise when he's playing jazz. She's one of the first adults that my very shy With-a-Why would ever talk to.
Last year, she said to With-a-Why one day, "I have news for you." She held up the weekend's newspaper, folded to a photo of a group of people getting sworn in as American citizens. She was one of them. At the time, I was feeling angry at the Bush administration and ashamed of how my country was acting, and I was touched by the idea that someone still wanted to be part of this country, despite all of our problems.
This week was the first time she was able to vote for an American president.
When we talked before the kids' lessons this afternoon, I asked what she thought of the election. "It was so exciting!" she said. "I took 56 photos!"
She sat next to me with her little camera, and we looked at the photos on the viewfinder — 56 photos of the television screen. They were surprisingly clear, and looking at them brought back the emotions of the night. "There's McCain giving his concession speech! There's Jesse Jackson crying! Look! Barack Obama!" We kept saying the same things at the same time. "And he's SMART! We are going to have a president who's SMART!"
We sat there for a few minutes, two women who grew up on opposite sides of the world, on opposite sides of the Cold War, two women raising our children in a country that had just elected a leader who is giving us reasons to hope. She clicked off her camera and breathed the words people all over the world have been saying this week. "Finally."
Posted by jo(e)