12/05/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Was It Him, or His Obama?

Is there such a thing as second-hand O-love - a giddy, soaring feeling for another Obama fan that is a natural byproduct of one's love for the candidate himself?

My experience tells me yes, but I thought I'd throw the question out there to see if I'm alone on this one or not.

Back in February, I went to my first caucus as a new Rocky Mountainer, fueled by hope, inspiration and's "Yes We Can." I hadn't felt so giddily, optimistically, politically alive since my No Nukes, protest days, and it showed.

I was sporting a snazzy, home-grown Barack Star T-shirt I'd found at my local Democrat HQ and was holding a roll of Obama stickers, in my role as what amounted to "head Obama sticker hander-outer" for my twenty-family precinct.

I'd never thought of hope as an oyster. To my mind, it had been more of a pearl. But as I handed out my stickers in my snazzy shirt in the high school fifteen miles north of my new home, I had a moment of eye contact with a super-cutey dude, and a surge of something that felt a lot like love rocked my world.

This may sound cheesy. But the moment was wonderfully cheesy. It was giddy, unguarded, like a scene from a movie from a more innocent age, when people looked across crowded high school hallways and found themselves united by an inexplicable, but wonderfully inextricable force that made the heart soar.

I smiled.
Obama Boy smiled.
We smiled.

I gave him a sticker.

He thanked me.

I read his nametag.

Part of me considered how his last name might look hyphenated to mine.

And then...we caucused our way to the auditorium to do our citizenly duty.

Looking back, I believe, there is no better place to fall in love than a jam-packed caucus. There were six hundred people there, and all of them seemed to care deeply about being there. This naked passion felt like a gift in itself in an age better-known for its too cool for school.

The guy who'd accepted my sticker was standing at the back of the room. I turned around and snuck a peek at him between podium presentations. Color me wonky, but the dude looked as rapt as I felt. And that felt super-fine to me.

I was smitten, high-school-crush-where-is-your-locker-I-hope-it's-next-to-mine!-style smitten.

But with whom?

In the weeks following caucus, the news about Obama was heart-poundingly great. He won our state. And then he won the primary. It was summer. Life was beautiful.

And then we had a bit of a break. It seemed like a good time to go on a date.

In the months since caucus, I'd researched my Obama Boy. He was a good-sized fish in our small town and I figured I'd run into him one day. And then one day, I did.

If this were High School Musical 5, or a Rocky Mountain version of West Side Story, my reunion with the man who'd made my heart sing at caucus time would be set to music.

But this is 21st-century life, and so my reunion with the man I wanted to hyphenate me happened over thin-crust flatbread pizza at a crowded birthday party in a local restaurant.

If this were a movie, the sight of the man who'd wowed me in those giddy O'stickered days of February would have set my heart aflutter.

But all I thought when I saw him was, "Huh?"

Physically, he was as handsome as ever. But vibe-wise, he was zilch.

What had changed?

I got an answer later that week, when George Lakoff, who writes wonderful words on the language of politics in HuffPost among other places, came to town.

I'm paraphrasing here big-time. But in Dr. Lakoff's view, the world of politics has parties and candidates who play the scary authority figure game, and others who exude a natural empathy. The scary figures create a fractured base of supporters through fear. The empathetic figures create a mood - and a world, if we're lucky - that's invitingly, contagiously positive.

Dare I say...O'positive?

Seen in this way, my experience back in February makes perfect sense. My connection to my Obama Boy wasn't a case of missed romance. It was a glorious byproduct of a candidate who brought - and continues to bring - me unbridled joy as part of his presidential race.

And so, this elections season ends with the candidate of my dreams on the presidential side of the ballot and my local Obama boy in the lower right, running for local office. Last week, I turned in my early ballot with a vote for both of them. Neither man will know my name, but I am grateful to both of them for the potentially limitless inspiration of empathy.

And so we turn to tomorrow, nervously, yet hopefully.

I've never been a bride, but I imagine that the sense of giddy expectation coupled with worry I'm feeling is a natural sensation on such a momentous eve. America is walking down the aisle. The groom is veiled for now.

Color me optimistic. But is it too much to hope that love, the ultimate unifier, will win the political day?

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