I traveled with friends to London less than a week after the 2008 presidential election. We were all thrilled that Barack Obama had been chosen, but what we didn’t expect was the reaction of so many of the Brits we met.
Asking for the price of batteries in a shop, or directions to the nearest tube station, we’d be asked, “Are you American?” and quickly after, “What do you think of your new president?”
Inevitably, they were delighted that we were delighted. I was so proud to be American! And when we got into conversations with these friendly strangers, they were as optimistic as we were. It was just very cool, you know?
I voted for President Obama again this morning, and I find myself wondering what people’s’ reactions would be if I were visiting London today. Would we still be in the same corner, and would they feel a better future was still at hand?
One of the fascinating things about travel is having the opportunity to share ideas and points of view with people in other countries. Last year in Rome, my son and I came across crowds of people chanting and singing and waving flags as the announcement was made that Bertolini was stepping down after years of much-publicized poor behavior.
Being “on the ground,” so to speak, when political history is being made gives you a sense of community with others around you. It’s not just your country or mine, it’s our world. We’re in it together – hoping for peace and prosperity, for clean air and water, for mutual respect and decency.
I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know who will be our president, though my hope is for Obama to have a little more time to try to make some of his dreams for us come true. That man has had nothing but a brutally uphill battle these past four years. Any accomplishment under the circumstances is fairly remarkable. Will those we elect ever be able to set aside partisan nonsense and just do what is right and good for the majority of us?
I’d love to visit London again and see more of the United Kingdom – perhaps even next year. I haven’t made any travel plans for 2013 yet. But today I’m glad to be home, glad to be able to vote.
And I am eternally optimistic and hopeful, actually – no matter what the outcome of today’s election. To quote Forrest Gump, ” Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Sometimes you get your favorite and sometimes you don’t – but having any kind of chocolate at all is better than none. Have you ever tried a chocolate covered Cheese Doodle? Only in America, my friends. Only in America. (And they are awesome, so don’t be afraid to try one when you have a chance!) I have no idea where I’m going with this now, but if I think of a really good joke or even have a deep thought connecting chocolate to the presidential election or world peace, I’ll get back to you.