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Of hope and hoops — my letter to Barack

What I want from you, Barack, as my president, is not so terribly different from what I’d want from any man, really.

I want a decent man. One who is measured and calm. One who can inspire and uplift. One who keeps his word.

A man who knows how to work up a sweat, shoot hoop and maybe even swish from the three-point line. Or at least one who doesn’t mind making a fool out of himself trying.

I want a man who helps me believe again. And then once I do – I want that man to give me reason to keep believing.

Reason to believe I’m going to be able to untangle myself from my own little American dream/train wreck that has gone wildly off the rails. To wit:

A struggling business. An economy that’s constricting the already few and far between opportunities available to writers. A car that’s breaking the bank account. A house I can barely afford the upkeep on. A depleted savings. A ravaged retirement.

I know I sound like a whiner, but can’t you relate? Surely you’re more wiped out than I am. You’ve lost a grandmother and sacrificed twenty-four months of any real quality time with those daughters you clearly adore. Me? I’ve lost a little money and a lot more sleep.

But I’ve also lost something else – my optimism.

And I think you’re going to find I’m not the only one. The crushing weight of dreams deferred is going to be one of your major challenges over the coming months. It’s hard to maintain a spirit of “Yes, we can,” when you’ve got to take your kids to the food bank to “shop” for groceries, or you have to move into an apartment because you’ve lost your home, or the more mundane but still dispiriting conundrum of whether to replace your lost contact lens or take your cat to the vet for an allergy shot.

The glow of Election Night will fade. You’ve got to know that, Barack. That mass of humanity that rose up to put you in office will be slowly re-buried under the avalanche of bills to pay and deadlines to meet. It will be tough for them to keep looking toward the light. And though I know the very words I’m writing here are a betrayal of your central argument of “Yes, we can;” sorry, but tonight I just can’t help it.

I mean, I’m still just as caught up as the next guy in the shimmering possibility of an Obama presidency and a reinvigorated America. The hope. The joy. The history-making on so many levels.

What I’ve witnessed over the last several days leaves me convinced “Hell yes, we can!” — as a nation. But as an individual it feels more like “Hell, no, I can’t!”

It’s getting damn hard to keep telling myself I’ll make it if I just keep working hard. Damn hard to see a future that isn’t severely undermined by the economics of the past year. Damn hard to keep the game face on.

Maybe it’s just the typical Day After a Frickin’ Miraculous Moment in History Letdown. Maybe I’ll bounce back to buoyancy tomorrow.

But tonight, Barack, I’m busted. Flat out. I spent the last few months – like a gazillion other people — making calls and sending emails, standing on street corners, waving signs, and sending checks my Visa bill wishes I hadn’t. And though I’m just one cog in the gigantic wheel that carried you into office, can you blame me if I’m just a wee bit wrung-out in the optimism department?

Barack, you’re my president-elect. I know you’re not my boyfriend, or even a helpful neighbor. I know you can’t massage my feet, pour me a glass of wine or take a look at the leaky faucet in the kitchen. I get that, and frankly, I like you just where you are.

But, dude, I’ve never felt so uncertain about my ability to say the words “Yes, I can,” and mean them day in and day out. I need more than words now.

I need a president who’s really got game. A president who focuses on getting the ball down the court by working the team. A president who knows when to pass and when to take the shot. A president who rebounds tirelessly and never freezes up at the free throw line.

I’ll keep doing my part from the bleachers, but for God’s sake, Barack, don’t let me down. Don’t foul out my faith in you.

“Yes, we can?”

Only if you’re the man I think you are.

Posted on November 6th, 2008Comments RSS Feed
One Response to Of hope and hoops — my letter to Barack
  1. Atagirl! Told you you’d feel better if you wrote a blog.
    Nice one, Mary Catherine.


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