Monday, January 19, 2009

Eight years ago I was just barely into my second semester of college, an unhealthy 20 pounds lighter and with very long wavy brown hair. Within a few weeks I would be breaking up with my first boyfriend and, immediately after, having a bout of pneumonia and bronchitis that would leave me hallucinating feverishly for most of a week, even today the sickest I can remember ever being. We had all recovered from the crippling feeling of defeat in our first election, the shock of all of the election-related Florida shenanigans, and I'm frankly unsure that I knew anyone at all who even realized that the inauguration was happening. That world was too big for us, and uninterested.

All these years and 3,000 miles later, it's hard to imagine being able to talk about a president without disdain, but with luck that might be about to change. I was in Italy during their elections, when Berlusconi was coming back in, and all of their political hopelessness was tinged with frustration at American politics. Money and power and deeply rooted corruption were leading their elections, and not a single person I spoke with felt like they could ever changed the outcome, voting or not. Almost all of them talked of leaving Italy, talked leaded with bone-deep sadness because they loved their country in a way that we usually don't. They all wanted to know how we had ended up with such a president when here, voting can change things. They all wanted to know how we had made the same mistake twice, and why we were wasting our rights.

Everything isn't going to change immediately, and maybe not ever, but the next 100 days will start to show us whether or not this world is too big, and still uninterested. In any case, I don't think a single person that I knew eight years ago is unaware that this inauguration is happening tomorrow.

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