“Well, I’m supposed to be objective about that kind of thing—you know, a supposed journalist and all. But yes, he was pretty good.”
“I always said, the three best days of my life was when I was married, when my three babies were born, and when I met Barack—but he was just a state senator then.”
“Wait, your three kids only get one day?” I kidded her.
She flipped her hand at the notion. “I couldn’t make ‘em different days because they’d all get in a argument about which day was the better one.”
I smiled. The crosswalk light changed, and I slowed to walk across with her. The cop directing traffic yelled at some kids who went sprinting into the street as traffic tried to get started.
“So you met Obama?” I asked.
“Just shook his hand at some meet-your-senator thing he was doing. But I couldn’t believe everything else that happened to him. I told my friend at the time, we just thought he was so handsome!” She laughed really hard at this in that way that old ladies do, with pockets of sinus juices vibrating.
I asked her if I could interview her quickly, and she declined. I asked her if I could at least quote her, and she said no. So I thanked her anyway and began to walk away, at which point she called back to me, “How ‘bout this?” she said. “God bless that man. God bless him. God bless. God bless him.”
And then she continued on her way.
Only a few hours after fourteen-year-old Destini Warren stood behind Obama listening to his speech—one of the kids whose tired legs I worried for while we all waited for the president to appear—she discovered her older sister had been shot and killed in North Chicago. Janay Mcfarlane was eighteen and the new mother of a three-month old son.