Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Obama era already has me reaching out

At about 1:15 this morning, I was taking a hot bath when I heard my neighbor's smoke alarm shriek and sirens wailing off in the distance. Being near a fire station, I'm used to the occasional siren. But the calamity was followed by the faint murmur of voices, which I never, ever hear, so I knew something was going down.

Quickly, I dried off, threw some clothes on and went outside. I learned that the apartment directly above me had filled with smoke and that the residents had heard crackling and saw something glowing red in the ceiling. The couple and their dog got out OK, and they didn't seem too fazed.

In no time, the fire department convoy burst into action, leaving several of us neighbors (who were, until now, strangers) huddled together in the wind and snow flurries. The victim couple joked around a bit with us as their Doberman-looking dog nipped hungrily at my hands. I learned that my neighbor two floors up just lost his job. The young woman next to him works in radio and just moved here two weeks ago. She and I were riffing on the things that media insiders (end sarcasm) riff upon, when the firefighters told us we were OK to go back inside, "unless, of course, you want to keep talking out here." Not a bad idea, actually. But the problem was ultimately minor and we all returned to our relative warmth. I say relative, because I had to refill my tub and at some point the hot water was shut off. But I was just happy everything was otherwise back to normal.

Well, now that I and my neighbors have reached out to each other, as well as seen firsthand how selflessly devoted our public servants can be, it really does seem like a new dawn in America.

Yeah, that sounds cheesy. And maybe it is. But when an elderly white woman mentions without provocation that she's excited about Inauguration Day because of the renewed hope she has, as she told me yesterday morning, then something's definitely happening. I heard variations of this sentiment all day on TV, in online/offline chats and elsewhere. Even my friends who don't necessarily support Obama are pulling and praying for him. It may sound bizarre to tie what happened this morning to politics, but to me the feelings are not that unrelated.

Whether it's your country, community or just your apartment building, it's time to feel like a part of something again. We need each other.


Michael said...

Bathing at 1 a.m., Ian?

Ian McGibboney said...

Yeah, I work strange hours. Also, the water's warmer then.