As I sit and watch the beginnings of the inauguration, I cannot help but be filled with an enormous sense of pride in our nation. I remember growing up, my best friend was Tonya Harris. Tonya had a white mom & a black dad. She was an anomaly in my rural town and she marched to the beat of her own drum. The country boys I grew up with would tease her and make fun of her, most while privately lusting after her, although they would never, ever admit that publicly, least their daddies find out. The girls would shun her, ignore her, roll their eyes at her colorful outfits and her big slightly-gapped toothed grin. But they would secretly sneak peeks at her makeup bag to figure out what eyeshadow she was wearing and copy her perfume and sneaker choices. They would stare at her amazing legs, in the mini-skirts with the little anklet socks and pumps, all while jealously muttering "slut" under their breath. To me she was just my best friend. We laughed together, as junior high girls do, plotting how to make the boys crazy, how to avoid getting caught being naughty and deciding which was the best flavor of bon-bell lip gloss. We both lusted after Michael Jackson, we gave our PTO heart attacks when we did an aerobics routine to Rick James' "Superfreak" (complete with skimpy leotards -- we were straight out of 'Flashdance') at the 7th grade talent show and we collectively probably gave our mothers their first gray hairs with our antics.
She was my best friend and I loved her unconditionally. I never noticed her skin color. And considering I grew up in a relatively racist home, my parents took the friendship pretty well. But if you had asked us, in all of our 12-year-old wisdom if someone of Tonya's skin color would ever be president, we would have defiently answered "of course", while deep down inside privately wondering if that could ever possibly be true.
Eventually Tonya and I drifted apart. We weren't in any of the same classes, our houses were 12 miles apart and we didn't eat lunch together or ride the same bus. The summer between 8th grade and high school Tonya's family moved away. About 15 years later we touched base via the internet, but neither of us is very good at staying in contact.
Maybe now, with facebook, linked-in, myspace, et all, I can find her again. Maybe today would be the perfect day to do that. After all, today we are discovering anything is possible, regardless of the color of your skin, your age or your upbrining. Anything at all.