On October 30th, 2008, I got dropped off at my parking lot gate at around 12:30 in the morning. As I fiddled with my keys, I could hear shouts and whoops whizzing through the air. I put my keys back in my purse and took myself for a walk.
South Street was abuzz with activity–not the aggressive, wanton debauchery of its Friday and Saturday nights, but a joyful, flushed-face conviviality truly proving the city to be worthy of its Brotherly Love epithet. Walking west to Broad Street, I high-fived nearly every person walking the other way. Their red baseball caps were bathed in a warm amber glow from the streetlights. A girl smilingly offered me a beer from her jacket pocket. Their attitudes were infectious, and I felt a huge grin spread across my face.
The evening chill kissed my skin as I thought about how, in hard times, we find heroes in the most unlikely of figures–unlikely, because although they are undeniably talented, their acts of “heroism” didn’t exactly save anyone: Babe Ruth. Lucky Lindy. Shirley Temple. Philadelphia, a city sodden with the downtrodden, had found its heroes in a group of athletes.
I had felt a similar electricity in the air a few weeks earlier, when I’d attended an Obama rally in North Philly. And because the atmosphere between the two events was so similar, and because the election was less than a week away, I mused to myself that when I would look back on this night they would be inextricably linked in my mind. At that moment, there was no doubt in my mind that change was going to come. With that amount of goodwill in the air, how could it not?