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By Mary Handfelt

January 19, 2009 (Lakeside) — The election that wouldn't
end is over; all the parties have cranked down their intensity level notch
by notch. The
victors have quietly settled into a new kind of peace, as if committed to demonstrating
in hyperbole the open minds and hearts that they promised would be - the harmony
that comes from choosing peace not war, or even bipartisan sparring.

a touch of self-satisfaction, too, perhaps, but a whole lot of embracing of
those who did not win and are having adjustment issues. In the midst
of this season of our content, millions have trekked to our Mecca of the Western
World, where Washington greets Lincoln, and Jefferson joins the party and everyone
is "at the mall." I implore my teenage children to remember every detail
so that they can tell their grandchildren about this. They look at me
for a fraction of a moment and go back to their texting. I wonder if
they "get" what's so momentous, besides this being the biggest gosh darn party
this planet earth has ever seen.

Truth is, it's even hard for me to keep my mind stretched around all the important
stuff rolled into this ball of history. The TV is pumping patriotism
like it rarely has before with the exceptions of 9/11 and JFK's funeral. The
newspaper gives a rundown of all the official balls, the unofficial balls and
their respective attire. (Did you know that Texas Black Tie means waist
up you wear a tux and waist down its pressed jeans with cowboy boots?) We're
celebrating something, all right. Last night I had my own dance with
history at an inauguration bash right here in my Scripps Ranch neighborhood. For
a few moments, that ball of stuff was center stage, every facet gleaming.

I've lived across the street from Pete and Dianne for 16 years. The first
thing I noticed upon meeting them is that Pete is black, Dianne is white. I
have never noticed that since. Rather they are our "hip" neighbors who
keep acting young while the rest of us age. Last night, they opened their
beautiful home to friends and neighbors, friends of friends and neighbors,
and complete strangers who found their invitation on the Move-on website. Sitting
in their lovely garden surrounded by lush bushes and flowering trees it was
impossible for me to comprehend that 5 years ago we had been sifting through
the ashes of their home after the Cedar Fire. They had lost everything,
including the car in the garage. From that tragedy they had moved quickly
to the work of rebuilding the exact same house, because they loved it, and
because it was all they needed. And now it was full of people they didn't
know but whom they treated like family because, the truth is, we are.

Then Pete picked up his harmonica and later his trombone, and with his band
he poured the Blues all over us. A few weeks ago, he had talked to me
about his music. His working life started with 10 years in the Navy as
an electronic technician and thereafter had always been electrical engineer
gigs for big companies, technology companies, and defense contractors. But
his passion was his music. In recent years he had taken a series of music
theory classes through Berklee College of Music in Boston, and was wrestling
with whether he should take on their Masters certificate program in music theory,
harmony and ear training. To listen to him play, in complete command of his
band, fashioning his sound and showering us with it, you knew it was the most
black and white decision he could ever make.

And there we are. Black and White. Opposites. Exclusive of
one another. I think of how much richer our lives are about to become
because, with this President, we will not separate them anymore. I tell
my kids about riding the bus to the city with my friends when I was their age,
sitting at the front of the bus while all the Negroes sat in the back. I
describe going with my mother to her hairdressing school, taking the elevator
past the "Negro" floor on the way to the "Whites" floor. We are the last
generation who will remember living in a world where everything was black and
white. Now black and white are blended together and our world is anything
but gray.

That idea scares some people. I know that will change once they hear
the music.

The opinions in this editorial are the views of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the views of East County Magazine. If you wish to submit an editorial,
please contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

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