Here on the pulse of this new day...

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope

Good morning.

- Maya Angelou

It's taken me fully a day to get myself back together. Starting early Saturday morning, I worked for four solid days canvassing Cabarrus county for the Obama campaign. In the course of that work, I shook hands with the most dignified elderly black men, the youngest just-starting-out Latino mothers, trailer-park rednecks and solidly middle-class suburbanites. I was welcomed by most, sworn at by a few, and threatened only once, so a good four days overall.

I was prepared for the physical exhaustion, the gas expenditures, the shin splints, and the sort of deep-set weariness that comes from, quite literally, jogging around all day. I was prepared to make new friends, to be rejected, and sometimes to be looked at strangely (more than once I was, quite literally, the only white person in sight, and it's funny that for the first time in my life, that didn't bother me a whit).

What I was absolutely unprepared for was how deeply invested I suddenly felt. I had been to rallies, to organizing meetings and such. I'd talked politics with friends, come around gradually to my support of Obama. We donated as our modest means allowed, not much but enough to count. What I hadn't done, in this campaign or ever before, was put my feet one in front of the other and walk the talk. I hadn't knocked on doors, hadn't pleaded with disinterested young black men to please take half an hour to go vote, because North Carolina really would be that close. I hadn't issued a fusillade of thanks to the working mother of four for taking time not only to vote herself, but to take her elderly parents, and browbeat her 18-year-old son into going as well, because North Carolina really would be that close. I hadn't experienced the deep satisfaction of knocking on the trailer door and speaking for ten minutes with the man fresh off a 12-hour shift at work, listening to him tell me in a deep Southern drawl that Barack Obama would really work to help guys like him, and feeling the kinship that comes from believing that you both get it.

I was, frankly, not prepared for my own wracking emotional response as the states were called one by one, nor for the sobs -- oddly mixed with huge laughter -- that came shortly after the race was called for Barack.

It's been a long way from Dennis to Barack, personally and politically. Certainly it's been a long haul for the country, and it's far from over. But for the first time in seven years, I feel truly, deeply proud of America's politics, and the extraordinary grace we have been granted in these last few days. Certainly, I feel as proud as I ever have before. My daughter, who is Asian, will know that even the highest achievement in the land is not limited to old, white men. That fact holds special significance for me today.

Certainly there's work to be done. Those of us who backed Barack have a special requirement to hold him to his promises. We who worked to see the legacy of Jesse Helms torn down, to see Elizabeth Dole sent back like Dorothy to Kansas, and to see Robin Hays sent back to his counting house, must be as hard on them as we have been on their predecessors, for reasons both identical and, paradoxically, completely different.

That's for later, though. For now, it's time to enjoy the thought of President Barack Hussein Obama, to plan road trips to DC for the inauguration, and perhaps to mend a few fences. It's going to be a good four years -- hard, but good. We've worked hard enough to win the rights to occupy the house. Time now for the hard work of reconstruction and renovation.

Let's get started.