Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shift Happens...My Inauguration Adventure

My apologies for the tardiness of this post. It's been a week since the inauguration but I've been plagued with technical difficulties: broken computer, no computer, couldn't get pictures off the card, cable modem busted, the list goes on. It looks like all is well now and I have rejoined cyber-lization.

So let's start with the obvious. I was there. And I didn't buy a button to remind myself later. This was an event I will never forget. I was there to witness Barack Obama take the oath of office (the first time...more on that later) and become the 44th President of the USA. So were about two million of my closest friends. We came as friends but as close as we stood to each other we were family when it was all over. I'd heard the term "Sea of Humanity" before but this was truly my first experience of it, and I was but a mere drop.

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The mood of Washington, DC was sheer jubilation. We stayed with my friend Irv and his fiancee Tami. And by 'we' I mean eight of us in a condo so small that the 'tour' took less than thirty seconds. But the eight of us represented the diversity-as-one that this new presidecy embodies: a bi-racial couple and child, a filipino couple, a federal employee, a volunteer who had to leave at 4:30 am and a Howard Universtiy alumni playing trumpet in the parade. It was just a big slumber party. Irv lives on U Street and it was just hoppin' all night long. Street musicians entertained and the line from Ben's Chilli Bowl [of recent Obama-ate-here fame] stretched around the block. There were vendors on every corner hawking Obama merchandise.

But no matter where we went, and especially at the actual swearing in, there was the feeling of unity, solidarity, and an underlying sense of relief that the eight-year nightmare is over. I was surprised by the number of young children attending. Despite warnings that it could be a difficult time for young children [read: difficult time for parents of young children] many parents including myself were clear that our children needed to witness this piece of history.

Joy was a trooper what with the cold and crowds. The worst crowd moment was on the metro station. There was a medical emergency at the top of the escalator so the metro staff wouldn't let us get out of the station so for about 30 min while the EMS did their job. Problem was the trains kept dumping more people into to station til it looked like this:

And this was just the lower level; the upper level was just as jammed. Eventually the trains stopped stopping because there was no more room left even on the platforms. Yet in this chaos there was patience and O-BA-MA chants and jokes and one crazy woman trying to sell t-shirts for $30 'cause I imagine the Obama fever went to her head and she imagined we were all crazy enough to buy her $30 t-shirts. They started to let us out in small groups and we had to walk up the escalators which were long enough to be about two or three flights of stairs. I had Joy on my shoulders so she wouldn't get trampled, and about half-way up the steps I figured out what the medical emergency was: people who hadn't climbed stairs in long time were just about passing out by the time they reached the top. The elderly were especially not doing well and there were about five more people with the paramedics by the time we got to the exit. A couple hits of oxygen and they were wanting to go again...talk about determination.

And it was that kind of determination that made it an international affair. We met folks from all parts of the world and all parts of the country [which is pretty much international as far as I'm concerned] who wanted to be a witness. Young and old, rich and poor, black and white [and all shades between], we all stood shoulder to shoulder as one to be a witness. Yes, it was a little surreal riding the metro next to some ladies in their heels and mink coats. ["the mink's not a nice animal anyways" one of them said when asked. wha?!] I had almost changed my mind about going because I knew what DC was like when swarms descended, this was a plague like I'd never seen. But I do not regret being there for one second...well maybe one: when the oath got bungled by Chief Justice Roberts. How hard was it to memorize like four lines?! And then, so they would be no arguments of the validity of the said bungling, they took the oath again indoors. So technically the first one didn't count? I got a headache on that one.

So I leave you with a few more pics of history being made.


Wonder-Rachel said...

Awesome. I would have loved loved loved to go. I was green with envy that my mom went. But sometimes life gets in the way. Sounds like you had an incredible experience.

Daniel said...


Your post is now part of history - a personal record of the events. It is a day I will never forget, even though we watched it from the warmth of our home, only 17 miles from the actual event.

Next time you come to DC, you must visit!

You were smart to stay in DC this time around.

God bless the president,