Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whole New Ballgame

On election day, I voted and then drove South to my job in Richmond. I parked my car in the spot by the fence which separates the office park from a middle school. A light rain had been falling - possibly the joyful tears of change -- and I noticed something in the grass on the curb.

It was a batting practice baseball from last spring with a piece of stitching undone and a weathered horseside from a barrage of both stifling Central Virginia heat and rain. It had been fouled over the pines concealing the backstop.

I thought about my son Quinn--our inextricable bond developed from his first moments in my arms--and the four months I'd been out of his weekly life. I put the ball in my trunk.

I was invited to an Obama Convention party in Richmond shortly after arriving. It was located in the provincial West End--where an acceptance of change and democrats have typically been in short supply. My good friends Bob, Chrystal, and Rob--the bedrock of Obama's Richmond support team--had a hand in its organization. Obama as President seemed remote to me at best and I hadn't given it much thought.

I watched the acceptance speech with a diverse group of people including two elderly African American women, small business owners and teachers. A random cross-section had been invited. The woman sitting next to me commented while Obama was speaking.

"My son says brown people don't speak like he does," she said. This woman owned a west end business was presumably well-educated with all of the trappings of someone who should know better than to ever speak like this. I felt sad and embarrassed.

I looked over at the elderly black woman sitting across from me who had registered the comment with a dignity and elegance that I had never witnessed--her eyes met mine without emotion as if to say me in the subtlest of ways, "What did you expect?" She had heard this sentiment expressed and a litany of others like it before.

Confidently, the woman looked beyond me to the future of a country that will need to embrace diversity to innovate and survive. Its very existence depends on it. She saw beyond me to a country that will change the perceptions of our forefathers and make this nation into the innovative and diverse force it yearns to be. She had ridden on the Richmond buses that stopped at the county line and walked on foot to the homes she worked in--but those days were disappearing with each word from Obama's mouth.

Diversity is innovation. And we have always been good at it. We have more than 200 years of putting it into action. We will do it again.

On election night, I was proud of Richmond, Virginia -- the Star City of the South -- as returns eked out a milestone victory for the state.

The baseball is on a shelf inscribed by me to my son Quinn with the date of the election and the name of the new president.

The descendant of an Boston-born Irish hurler for the Duke Blue Devils who served his country in WWII instead of playing professional baseball, Quinn's overhand toss shows wicked promise.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Locations of visitors to this page