There is a story I haven’t told yet from my time at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
I didn’t mention it to anyone. Not my colleagues there or my husband at home. I’ve kept it tucked in my mind, because in all honesty, I wasn’t sure how to articulate what occurred.
On the second to last day of my trip to Denver I was on the phone with my kids outside the Pepsi Center. In between trying to coax my 3-year old into telling me about her day and explaining to my 5-year old why he needed to take a break from the Wii, I saw a man looking up at the Pepsi Center sign.
There were a million people around, all rushing into the Center to hear Joe Biden. So it was jam packed. Just a few minutes earlier the Daily Show was taping out front, and other camera crews were set up all over the place. In short, it was chaotic.
The man was probably about my age, 30’s. He was African-American, and carrying a plastic shopping bag. It was the cheap kind of bag. The ones you can mostly see through. I could see toothpaste, a toothbrush, some clothes. It was as if he had lost or broken his suitcase and had to resort to whatever he could find around. He was dressed very sharply, slacks and a button down shirt. So the bag seemed very out of place and caught my attention. Otherwise, I might have missed him. Around his neck was a credential to get inside and a digital camera.
As I hung up the phone with my kids, I watched him struggle to take a photo of himself in front of the DNC sign, and I walked over and offered my assistance.
He said thank you, I took the photo, and as I handed back the camera I asked him where he was from. Small talk.
He was shaking his head. Not because he didn’t want to tell me, but because he was too emotional to speak. It was then I could see the tears in his eyes.
Of course, having been an emotional wreck over all this myself, I put my hand on his and without us having even exchanged names or hometowns or anything I too began to cry.
All I could say to him, with a smile through my tears, was ‘I know. I know.’
He firmly grasped my hand and said ‘I never thought I’d see this happen. Not in my lifetime. Not ever.‘
I nodded. These two total strangers welling up outside the Pepsi Center holding hands.
He thanked me for taking his picture, gave me a hug and said ‘and I was here‘ and walked away.
I have no idea who he was. I have no idea what happened to his suitcase. I have no idea why at that moment two complete strangers held hands and cried in a sea of people.
Wait, that’s not right. I do know why. I know exactly why.
I took a photo of the man with my cell phone camera as he walked away, and then deleted it. At first I thought I needed to document what just happened, and then I thought maybe I was crazy for thinking I had this ‘moment.’
Now I’m mad I deleted the photo. Because the past year and so-many-odd months for me has been about that moment. Because of that moment. The sheer idea of that moment when this all started and realization in Denver that yes we really can come together.
There is one week left. One more week. And I know we’re tired. And I know we’re sick of all this political sniping and endless punditry. But for one more week I can push on and you can push on because we HAVE to get to Nov. 4th and elect Barack Obama as President of the United States.
Because together we can change this country and together we can change the world.