And that’s what we did. Whether you waited the few hours last night for election results, just under 2 years since Obama announced his campaign, 8 years since George W. Bush took office, an entire lifetime, or all of the above to sense change in the American air, it finally feels palpable.

Not exactly like Michelle Obama’s iteration, “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback,” but related in a more prosaically domestic way, hope hit me yesterday when I was mixing up cookie dough for these star sandwich cookies. Silly I know, but I do a lot of thinking when I’m creating. =) I had felt goosebumps for almost 24 hours straight, unable to focus on work and only able to channel my political interest into baking, reading articles online, watching the coverage on TV and voting, of course. As I was kneading the red and blue food coloring into the sugary masses, I remember thinking, I haven’t felt “this” in a long time. A combination of hope, excitement AND patriotism–these are rarely concurrent for me.

Patriotism had lost its appeal to me during the last 8 years and yet I still love this country and the freedoms inherent in living here. I can wear my Dubya Decepticon shirt and make a mockery of the current president, articulate the same opinions in print and on the web and rest assure that nothing bad will happen to me (Well, in New York City and “virtually” at least!) While I’m grateful for that, I am anything but grateful for the current administration, the disgust felt towards it here and abroad for good reasons, the horrific consequences of not one, but two wars that are still going on, even though so many people, myself included occasionally, turn a blind eye to them.

Last night in the East Village, as the wine and beer flowed in anticipation of celebrating but ready to function in its drowning-sorrows role if need be, and the above cookies and potluck-style food were consumed for comfort more than anything, thirty or forty of us watched and waited. When I saw my home state of Pennsylvania flash from gray to blue, I could feel tears in the back of my eyes; it wasn’t over, but we all knew the Keystone State was exactly that tonight. The woohooing and texting would only increase from there, a “Shit yeah!, “Yes we can!,” “Gobama!” and all the other little snippets of joy typed into phones across the country. For us twenty-somethings, this is probably the first presidential election that was going “right” and thus, we were cautious. (Four years ago, Bush won his second term ON my birthday–talk about “it’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to”). But the electoral vote number kept going up and up for Obama, and switching the channel to the ridiculous and nauseating Fox, we all watched the conservative newscasters pronounce Obama the president-elect. Oh so sickly sweet…

Towards the end of the night, as Obama delivered his victory speech, we all fell silent, hanging onto every word, processing what this means, laughing when appropriate but generally staring in disbelief. One guy at the party was a bit liquored up, but watching just as intently. He was the only one to scream at the top of his lungs during the speech, uttering things like, “This guy is f—ing awesome” and “Come on everybody, you’ve gotta get excited!” and saying to someone aside, “Don’t just sit there! Do you realize what has just happened?” As fuzzy as his head may have been at that point and as funny as we may have looked at him, chalking up his outbursts to beer, I think he had it right: this guy is f—ing awesome. He definitely had it right.

Walking from the East Village to Little Italy and eventually riding the subway back to Brooklyn, my hands proudly stained red and blue, I witnessed a fervor in the streets never seen before. New York gets excited about all kinds of events–New Year’s, a Super bowl win, the Today Show–but not like last night. It wasn’t just screaming, impatient honking and erratic running through the streets, it was pure energy and invigorating hope. Hugging and high-fiving strangers, smiling when you saw the same Obama pin or sticker on someone else, and going home at 3am feeling like anything was possible. Is possible.

“It’s been a long time coming.”