I’ll just say it.
Yesterday, the day of Obama’s inauguration, was one of the most stressful days of my entire life.
I had this picture in my mind of how the day would play out for me in Washington D.C.—an impossible sunshine image that didn’t include the clouds of life’s little realities.
We arrived at the back of the Capital building around 8am, figuring we would just circumvent the ticketed area and walk up the mall to find a spot. But instead, we were greeted by about 300,000 angry ticket-holders—some of whom, I later heard on the news, never got in to see the events at all.
We tried to pass through the lines, which were each about 30-people wide. Big mistake. We cut through all the people, and were met by a concrete wall, caution tape and fences on the other side. Many other people were filing in behind us, so we were essentially drowning in the crowd. No air to breath. When we tried to get out, various uninformed security personnel kept pushing us back into this vortex of stress by giving us faulty information and/or yelling this at us: “You can’t be in this area!!! Turn back!!! What about yellow tape do you not understand!!!” (yeah, a parking attendant woman yelled that at my entire family).
Literally no one would let us through…
…Except for an elderly African-American woman, standing with the aide of a walker. A woman who had been standing outside since 4:30 in the morning.
Ray of light #1.
After we escaped (because that’s really what it felt like), we proceeded to zig zag up the letter streets and across the number streets for about another 2 hours until we got to 18th street. And, finally, to the mall, which looked more splendid than a glass of half-melted ice cubes on a hot summer day.
Ray of light #2.
We ended up settling at a Jumbotron right behind the Washington Monument. I couldn’t have asked for a better spot – it was positively picturesque.
Ray of light #3.
But then the clouds created a shadow yet again when a 20-something year old college kid standing behind me asked if he could put his hands in my hair to keep them warm (I’ll just refer to this Melissa Harris-Lacewell interview from Rachel Maddow’s pre-inauguration show to address that one).
After all that, though, the rays of light that had been piercing the clouds all day seemed to overtake the sky and shine brilliantly. They manifested themselves in several different ways.
How, you ask?
Well like, for instance, each time the speakers asked the audience to “please rise” or “please be seated”. These requests triggered the purest giggle inside of me—and everyone else on the mall, so it seemed. It was like we were all in on a secret joke with a hilarity 10 freezing hours in the making. I basked in the shared laughter of 1.5 million people.
Or when I pinned my aunt’s Civil Rights quilt around my shoulders to keep warm. Many people stopped to marvel at her craft—take pictures even—and I basked in their appreciation of her brilliance.
And, finally, when Obama took the oath of office. I basked in the fact that splendor and reality had finally converged into one magnificent definition.
I'm thinking my day was somehow a metaphor for America's changing of power. But I know now I'm getting crazy deep on you.
That’s how it all went down for me. How did January 20th, 2009 play out for you?