Days Like These: 'Now that Obama's been elected, there is a giant hole in Matthew's life'

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The Independent Online

His eyes open slowly. His hand reaches, as it has done every morning for the past 21 months, down to the side of the bed, the laptop is placed on his lap and his fingers race deftly and surprisingly nimbly over the keys. He is like a sloth who happens to be a concert pianist.

"Oh," he says, glumly, as reality dawns, "I suppose there isn't much point checking how independent single women earning less than $50,000 are trending in the polls in Ohio any more, is there? There are no more polls in Ohio. And what, I ask, am I supposed to do now?"

Old habits die hard, and Matthew's Obama habit is relatively old, so every few minutes throughout the day, starting with that waking moment, he still picks up his computer and looks for news that no longer exists.

"I am like an amputee," he told me, "I can still feel sensations in a limb that was sawn off long ago." The computer is presumably the limb in this sinister analogy. I tell him that I would prefer to think of him as an addict suddenly gone cold turkey, struggling to cope with withdrawal symptoms.

He thanks me for that and begins his forlorn wanderings around the house. He is looking for something. He is desperately looking for something to fill all the hours previously taken up with his Obama passion. There is a giant hole in Matthew's life now.

He was talking in his sleep the night after the result. "Louis," he said, addressing our son who, having been woken at 4am to be told of Obama's win, was in bed in his own room, soundly out for the count, "Louis," said Matthew through his dreams, "I'm very concerned about suburban voters in western Pennsylvania."

And then he fell quiet until, just before he woke when he told me that it was almost certain Obama would carry Indiana.

In his heart, of course, Matthew is as overjoyed as I am at what has happened in America. But time hangs heavy in this house all the same. Still, nature abhors a vacuum, so surely something would come along to fill the chasm. I just worried about what that might be.

And then a brown box appeared in the kitchen. Louis and I stared at it and walked round it as if it were venomous. Matthew had deposited the box an hour earlier and then gone out again. When he returned a while later he was carrying a Waterstone's bag. He came in, kissed us both, put the bag down and picked up his computer.

"What are you doing?" I asked. "What is this box?" What's in the bag?" Why are you going online when the election is over. You have to accept it now. It's over."

"I do accept it," he said, beaming. "I accept it gladly, which is why I am about to put my computer away. It isn't needed here any longer. I am moving on. I have a new hobby now."

"Is that what the box is about?" I ask. "Yes," says Matthew, "It is precisely what the box is about. Why don't you open it?" And then he heads off to his office at the bottom of the garden with his computer under his arm.

I fetch a knife and start to cut carefully along the seams of the box. By the time Matthew returns I am almost ready to lift the flaps.

"I really don't want to do this," I tell him. "Because I am very frightened."

"Oh, no. Do not be afeared, my sweet," said Matthew. "Fear ye not one whit, my love." So now I am even more frightened.

"You open it." I say, and Matthew takes the knife from me and slashes at the last, unopened seam like Norman Bates. He yanks the two sides of the box apart, delves in, grunts and pulls out a power saw. "Behold," he says, "gaze in wonderment upon this tool with which I am going to make things. I will start with a shelf."

He then reaches for the Waterstone's bag and pulls out DIY for Dummies by Scott Hefflon.

"But a shelf will just be the start. Then I will progress to a chair. I have hopes for a bookcase and perhaps a table."

And then there is a pause as he raises his arms and holds the power saw and the book above his head and says with the faintest hint of a Southern drawl: "Change is coming to this house, y'all hear me? Change you can believe in. Can I make a shelf, you ask? Yes, I can."

"Can you turn that amputee analogy into reality?" I ask, leaving the room in disgust, "With that power saw, yes you can."

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