Last week I felt the beginnings of a cold. I made it go away because I was heading to Iowa to canvass for the weekend. I felt the symptoms again on Tuesday, but tried to ignore them as I headed downtown. Over two hours of standing and watching CNN election results on a huge screen with thousands of others had me feeling not great. I limped off from the crowd to a less populated place on the grass where others were sitting on blankets.
I pulled my hood over my head against the chill. I looked around and couldn't believe some people were out there in t-shirts without sweaters at all. I saw that it was almost 9:30 p.m. and wondered why I wanted to stay. I was thirsty and in pain. I wanted to go home and watch the rest of it on tv. I knew if I called my husband, he'd encourage me to come home. So I called my friend, Robert, in New York.
Robert didn't argue with me. He just said, "Regina, you have to stay!" I whined, but I knew he was right. I hung up with Robert and lay down on the ground, hoping that a cat nap wouldn't leave me unable to warm up again.
At a few minutes before (after?) 10:00 p.m. CST, Obama was projected the winner. I scrambled to my feet and didn't have any trouble staying on them for the rest of the night. I had my second wind.
There are many things I didn't realize until later (such as, that I should have stocked up on t-shirts and newspapers), but one that's finally sinking in is how many friends and family find it important to know someone who was in Grant Park on election night: me. I had no idea that I was also there for everyone who couldn't be, but who wants to be able to say that their cousin/sister/friend/etc. was.
Well, then I'm even more glad I stayed. I probably would have stayed anyway, just from inertia, but thanks for the pep talk, Robert.