This piece - originally titled "Obama: Premonitions of a new epoch" - was written and published four years ago, when the events it describes transpired. It is being re-presented today for obvious reasons. Do I stand by everything I wrote? Not exactly. Much has changed. More to the point, much didn't change. But this makes, among other things, a fascinating time capsule.
The essay is also re-appearing in the midst of a month devoted to my recently completed short film "Class of 2002", a fictional photo-memoir focusing on five young people in the past decade. Therefore I'm using the occasion to encourage you to watch the movie if you haven't yet, and would also note that the film actually provides an interesting complement/counterpoint to the following essay; while touching on many themes addressed below, the film's tone is far more pessimistic and melancholy.
Like many in my generation, I've seesawed between a sense of disappointment and frustration on the one hand, and on the other a yearning for, well, hope and change, which Obama represented so vividly in 2008. Since then, there have been disappointments and frustrations aplenty, with him and others, in politics and elsewhere. Yet perhaps by reflecting on the worried but still vivid optimism of that freezing cold winter day, we can at least momentarily cultivate a feeling of positivity.