The night Obama won his first election, I was there with Barack, Michelle, Sasha, Malia, and 240,000 other Chicagoans.
It was one of the best nights of my life.
I had been watching the results at home on the North side of Chicago. As soon as CNN called one of the battleground states — I think Pennsylvania? — and it looked like it was in the bag, my friends and I dropped everything and rushed down to Millennium Park.
When we got there, the feeling in the crowd was incredible. The air was electric. Everyone was ecstatic, upbeat, and proud. When he made his speech, people cried and strangers hugged each other.
What I remember from that night was the optimism we felt. Everything felt light. We felt like we were at the precipice of something totally new and exciting.
This was our guy. These were our people. As a young person (in political terms), this was our moment.
When the speech was over and we all spilled out onto Michigan Avenue, people were swinging on lampposts. Running and skipping. Cartwheels and champagne. Still more strangers hugging. It was magic.
I think we walked all the way back home, a distance we never would have walked on a normal day, but we didn’t mind because we were practically walking on air.
That night we went to sleep smiling.
This week, on election night, I made french toast. Not for dinner, but afterward. I just stress-cooked a big batch of french toast to put in the freezer.
I’ve started making batches of breakfast for my son so we can quickly grab one in the mornings.
One week it’s a batch of silver dollar pancakes. The next it’s a batch of french toast. Because when a 14-month old is hungry, he’s hungry.
My wife was sitting on the couch, nervously watching the result on her phone, switching between CNN and the New York Times. But I couldn’t bear to watch the results come in.
I was too scared.
I thought back to the last election.
I was living in DC. My wife and I spent the evening at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, texting voters on the West Coast to get out the vote.
The mood was upbeat. Nancy Pelosi came by to cheer us on.
Around 8 pm, we went home, feeling like we had done what we could.
We went to sleep optimistic. We woke up stunned. I couldn’t do that to myself again.
So this time I made french toast.
I can’t control much right now, but I can make sure my son has a good breakfast each morning, made with love.
I can control this.
Today I feel something different. I’m somewhere in between.
I feel relief. And I’m starting to feel proud again.
This election wasn’t the reckoning we were hoping for. In the back of our minds, I think most of us knew it wouldn’t be. The rifts in our country are much deeper than an election could paper over.
But we are going to have the first woman Vice President. The first Black Vice President, and the first South Asian-American Vice President.
The first stepmom, and the first blended family in the White House.
(And a little touch of pride at the first Jewish husband of the Vice President.)
I still think that this country is the best place for a woman to start, run, and grow a business.
And I’m still committed to helping every single woman grow her consulting and coaching businesses, and get paid more for every single client engagement.
Because money is power.
So tonight I’ll sleep easier. But it’s not just about rest, it’s about resting up. Because we still have a lot of work to do.
To your success,