A New Day Dawns


“Phoebe Boatwright, “Minions,” mixed media, each approximately 2″ high (photo ©2008 Liz Hager)

Last night, like most Americans, I joined family & friends to watch the election returns. In 21st-century fashion we tracked the breaking results on two computers and a television set. The stage was set with anticipation and fear, but there was still a lot of hope going around. 

I sat on the couch next to 14-year-old Phoebe. Phoebe is the daughter of our friends, but she is also one of my art buddies. Sometimes she comes over for working sessions on Photoshop or my sewing machine, or to finish off a project using my paints, pens, or Fimo clay.  I jokingly refer to these hours together as “Art Camp,” but I have come to think of them as more than creative sessions.  Phoebe is on the verge of adolescence, making the transition to adulthood with the typical teen mixture of absorption, bravado, flippancy, and pig-headedness. She has thousands of ideas, many of which, like her minions—little henchmen and women fashioned from wine corks, string and tape—are sophisticated and witty. It’s hard to have spent the quality of time I have with Phoebe and not feel a vested interest in her future.

A little after 8pm (PST) as the polls closed in California, CNN Projected Obama as the nation’s 44th President. The room filled with whooping and clapping, dazed silence and quiet tears. In the seconds after the announcement I joyously pulled Phoebe close and said “Do you realize how lucky you are to experience such an historic moment?”  

For the past 8 years, I have felt alternately angry and detached, wondering how my country could have been hijacked by the Purveyors of Fear and how it would be wrestled from their hands.  In the flash of that announcement, however, those useless emotions disappeared. I felt buoyant, deliriously happy. A new day had dawned. This moment was proof that anything was possible! Our country had been returned.  I knew, because once again I could see our American Dream shimmering radiantly. 

And in that moment Phoebe saw the future too. In response to my question, she assured me, “I’ll always remember where I was when this happened.”

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