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President Obama in my kitchen.

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Was a time, I decorated walls with the faces of people I didn’t know: Donny Osmond, James Taylor, probably U2 at some point, although I was an adult by then, even if a young one, and adults don’t generally mount posters of Famous People around their homes.

Which is likely why I hesitated to put up that poster of President Obama.

It arrived in the mail one day, unbidden, no doubt because I’ve tossed the campaign a few shekels now and then. It’s about 11 x 17 inches or so; across the top it reads CHANGE IS, then there’s an artsy head shot of the President, and then a list:

1/29/2009 EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK 3/30/2009 SAVING THE US AUTO INDUSTRY 5/22/2009 CREDIT CARD REFORM 10/28/2009 HATE CRIMES PREVENTION ACT 3/23/2010 AFFORDABLE CARE ACT 3/30/2010 STUDENT LOAN REFORM 7/21/2010 WALL STREET REFORM 12/17/2010 MIDDLE-CLASS TAX CUTS 12/22/2010 REPEAL OF “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” 7/29/2011 RAISING FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS 12/18/2011 ENDING THE WAR IN IRAQ

I opened it up, unfolded it, looked at it for awhile. Walked around the house with it. Then I pulled out the tape and hung it in my kitchen.

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Now, whenever I walk past the President’s face, I imagine I feel a bit like a Catholic in the 1960s, those folks who hung a picture of President Kennedy next to the Pope. Because this President? He’s one of my own. I like having him in the heart of my family’s home.

And that’s the thing, really. For the first time in my life — a life lived across two continents and two political systems — the person leading my country and representing it to the world is one of my own.

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I’m not black, or bi-racial. I’m not from Hawaii. I’ve never been to Indonesia. My grandparents don’t hail from Kansas or Kenya. I did attend the University of Chicago (while Mr. Obama was teaching there, no less), but not Harvard. I’m not a lawyer. And possibly more to the point — I do disagree with this President now and then. I’ve even yelled at the radio a time or two.

And yet, he’s one of my own. His respect for intelligent inquiry, for individuals and peoples, for gentle humor and not backing down; the willingness he’s shown to take bold action and also to admit error; and his constant, consistent refusal to get involved in the mind games that literally millions of people are trying to play with him — these all reflect a manner that I not only want to see in my President, but am hoping to teach my children. Barack Obama represents what I want my country to be.

We don’t always have to agree to be on the same page; I don’t have to be in someone’s thrall to be glad he’s in my life. In my home. On my kitchen wall.

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It makes me proud to see the President there. It makes me think that all these things that I’ve believed in my whole life — things like equal pay for equal work, and protecting our environment, and granting human dignity across the board — have a real chance out there in the world. Like maybe Americans really can perfect the union.

I imagine that I’ll continue to disagree with President Obama from time to time, and maybe yell at the radio another time or two. I figure he can take it — he is in politics, after all.

But I also imagine that come November, after I’ve volunteered for another Obama campaign and he’s been re-elected (please God and Get Out The Vote!), I will once again turn all weepy. Because human fallibility aside, I am prouder than I can say to have him in the Oval Office.

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I never thought one of my own would make it.

Crossposted at Emily L. Hauser In My Head.

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