Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Witnessing History - January 20, 2009

What a crazy emotional day.  Mad props to the US Air ticket agent at the Wilmington airport who rerouted my flights and made sure I got home Monday night.

And to the guy at the Super Shuttle desk, let me reiterate

THE BRIDGES DIDN'T CLOSE UNTIL 3:00 AM!!  YOU COULD STILL DRIVE INTO THE CITY!

There were lots of reports of delays and drama on Metro Tuesday.  Seriously, falling onto the tracks is a personal nightmare. Luckily, I only had to hop the bus to Dupont to meet Tortie Girl and Julie, and then we walked down 18th Street to the Mall.

I don't know why I ever thought this was a super secret route.

We staked out a spot adjacent to the Washington Monument in sight of a Jumbotron by 10:30.  And then we waited.  And frequently had to reposition, trying to get a clear view.  The joke is that there are no tall men in D.C., but there must be, because they were all on the Mall, and they were ALL standing in front of us.  

Given the size of the crowd, people were super chill.  Although the guy flying the giant Freedom pony flag did get a "PUT IT DOWN" chant, because seriously.  Down in front.









Occasional chants of "O-BA-MA" and "Yes we did!" would break out ... as did BOOs every time Bush 43 and Evil Dickie were shown on the screen.  

We also got shots of all the VIPs are they arrived.  I wondered at Beyonce not wearing a hat - given that is was all of 20 degrees - but then I realized why.  Two words. 



Aretha.  Franklin.

That hat was FIERCE.  Love it!  Want it!  I enjoyed her performance, but I was really hoping they would wheel out Ray Charles' reanimated corpse to sing America the Beautiful.






There were some glitches with the sound, so we missed most of Dianne Feinstein's opening remarks.   But they got it sorted out in time for the Oaths of Office and President Obama's address.  Again, give the size of the crowd, it was virtually silent during his speech.  We were all just engrossed in what he had to say.


I really enjoyed his speech.  I think he found a good balance between addressing the very real challenges we're facing as a country, while still maintaining a sense of hope.  I have not felt this hopeful and excited for the future since voting in my very first election.

We made a break for it pretty much as soon as President Obama finished speaking, and headed back up 18th.  I was - not exactly disappointed - but I was hoping for more exuberance from the crowd.  I expected the Mall to be more like 14th Street on election night.  I wanted hugging.  But on reflection, here's what I think.  Everyone on the Mall was there to give witness to history.  And that is both a joyful and a solemn thing.  Euphoria was for election night.  Yesterday was about putting the seal on this new administration, so our President can get to work doing the business of the people.

Or, as my friend Taciturnal put it:
The joy of electing change is past.  Now is the day of what makes America pretty amazing.  The orderly transfer of command not just from one person to another, but from one ideology to another.  And that is what is impressive, important, and inspiring and deserves respect and reverence.
But hugging would have been nice.

Following the advice of Metro, we grabbed a bite at James Hoban's. Our cozy little dining room had a TV tuned to CNN, which was carrying the Congressional luncheon. It was just like they were eating with us!

They dined on pheasant and duck. Swanky! And what do you suppose Rahm Emanual and John McCain talked about? Did you know Rahm had part of a finger amputated after an Arby's kitchen accident?  Man, I've so been there.  Although I didn't go swimming in Lake Michigan after I took a chunk out of my thumb in the Ruby Tuesdays kitchen.  

And really, that story is way less sexy than Julie's theory that he's secretly Yakuza.



Here we see President Obama slowly making his way over to our table.











And did everyone in the dining room clap and cheer as the Bushes boarded Not!Air Force One to finally get the hell out of town? 

 Yes we did.





And then I went home and watched the parade on TV.  Although CNN's online coverage was much better, since they didn't talk over the bands.  For reals, Fox 5's Holly Morris may be the most annoying on-air talent to ever walk the earth.  

I wish I could have been there though, to get a chance to actually see the Obamas.  And you know what, screw the Secret Service, I would have knocked Michelle Obama down for that gold dress and jacket.  She looked fantastic!

And I totes want to be BFF's with Sasha and Malia so I can borrow Sasha's outfit and we can have sleepovers and braid each other's hair and talk about which Jonas brother is our favorite.

I like Simon best.

So that was my day.  I still can't believe it just happened yesterday and that I was there.  My hope now is that we can all be patient.  Today is Day One.  There's eight years of merde piled up in the barn - you can't expect it will all get shoveled out over night.

Good luck and God bless President Obama.

More photos from the Inauguration are at wax|wendy's flickr set.

1 comment:

taciturnal said...

it must have been the power of the day as people never take what i have to say with anything but a oceanic grain of salt. :)

thanks for including me in your quite riveting description of the day. despite intently scanning the crowd on tv and never seeing your smiling yet hugless self the texts traded made me feel like i was part of the fun!