Rachel described to me her night at school and why she had "Roses Are Free" by Ween on repeat:

Well I was in my house and not watching the election, because I didn't believe Obama would win, and just talking to Collin in my room, with the windows open because it was a warm night. Then out of nowhere we just heard screaming. We opened the windows more to get a better listen, because we couldn't tell where it was coming from- it was just this roar emanating from all directions. We flew down the stairs and outside and there were people running in the streets. Huge crowds of people... We got on our bikes and followed them... 

In north quad there was just this mass in the grass of hundreds of people all crowded together, shouting and yelling and running in circles and dancing, and more people from all directions flocking there every second. There were other masses on the move, just headed south like they knew where they were going. We followed these spontaneous parades (chanting yelling howling) down to Wilder Bowl where the same thing was happening. More and more people were massing... It was like a biological program or something- like everyone's "celebration" genes were activated, something that compelled them to just come together in the middle of everything.
 My housemate's boyfriend was running down the sidewalk carrying his tuba and yelled to us that his jazz group was assembling outside south... Within five minutes they were all there and began playing "When The Saints Go Marching In" and started circling the campus, collecting all the different groups together behind them... there were people on bikes and people with dogs and people from the community and people who were naked, just this huge parade, but in the nighttime. And they circled the campus collecting more and more shouting, screaming people, and they just played louder. Cars in the street were stopping and honking along, nothing was moving, nothing was happening but this. The crowd was so big you couldn't see the other side of it from where we were. And everyone was there, everyone was hugging everyone, it was like a dream where you see everyone you ever loved right before the end of the world, and you all somehow know that heaven is real and everyone's going!
...They led us to the pavilion in Tappan Square... you know, the kind of area where it's easy to get disoriented. All the lights from the buildings all around looked totally foreign, so it felt like we were in a place that would only exist this one time, and after this we could never go back. And the band was playing something that had just come to them, and it was totally beautiful and triumphant, trumpets blasting and everything. Harkness showed up with wooden spoons and pots and pans and played backup percussion. And more and more people all of the time, crowd-surfing, beer flying everywhere. At some point the number of people seemed to peak, and that's when in the middle of it all someone made their way to the front of the crowd on the pavilion, an older black man, maybe a professor?- was suddenly talking and everyone was suddenly quiet... he shouted out this impromptu speech to everyone, saying that 100 generations of ancestors were watching this moment through our eyes, and how important it was that we were alive at this moment. 
Then he said something like, "Someday when you're old, you might forget all of this ever happened... But right now... We ain't never gonna forget." (*right now*, we ain't *never* gonna forget... my favorite part.) Everyone cheered and suddenly he was gone, absorbed right back into the surging crowd, from which some broke free forward and climbed up above the pavilion to dance on the rafters. People were chanting "Obama!" and "USA! USA!"- suddenly proud to be American. And people were setting off fireworks in a huge circle all around us, and people were kissing each other and holding each other and kneeling and crying on the ground, just loving each other. I've never seen so many people so truly happy at one time. It was as if all of our cynicism, all of our political grudge and mistrust, all of our discontent was put on hold, for one night. And I guess the band played all night. 
Everything was happening so fast, but hours had passed. At some point my housemate Sophia and my housemate Sarah and her boyfriend and Collin and I slipped away out of the crowd and went back to our Woodland street house. We went out on the roof... someone had grabbed on the way our house jack-o-lantern, a dinosaur panorama now sagging and soft. We made a quick plot and lobbed it off the roof and "1! 2! 3!" watched it break into a million pieces on the parking lot below. Thus "Roses Are Free": "Throw the pumpkin at the tree... Unless you think that pumpkin holds your destiny... Cast it off into the sea... Bake that pie and eat it with me."

I'd really like to read other stories (and Rachel does too). I wish I could've been there.

Posted
AuthorChris Hamby