Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Which We Go To The Inauguration.

I would say that I have no words.........

...but some of you actually know me and know that I *always* have words- frequently too many of them.

I Actually Kind Of Like Long Lines
We got to the inauguration very early- we found the purple ticket gate line at 5:00 A.M. and met a lovely bunch of folks who were already there waiting. We traded the usual "hi, how are yous",and the "where are you froms", and started cracking jokes and telling stories and jumping up and down to keep warm and generally having a terrific, if freezing , waiting-on- line time. We were toward the front of the line and assumed we would be in good position to get a very good spot at the ceremony. We were all congratulating ourselves on getting there without much trouble and being in such a great location and having the coveted purple ticket.
Even The Best Laid Plans
After a couple of hours our nice little line which was now stretching a very long way behind us, started falling apart. We had no idea what was happening or why it was happening. We started out in an orderly line about three folks deep and ended up being in a crush of people. There were moments when this was just a little scary. The line wasn't moving, there were no cops around, no volunteers, no one to answer our questions- just a lot of folks who thought they were going to be on the lawn of the capitol. Eventually it all just fell apart and we came very close to just giving it up. Our little original Five A.M. Line community had been split apart by the huge swell of the crowd, which was so packed together that we couldn't even reach our hands up out of our pockets- it was really a disaster waiting to happen.

But Oddly Enough I Wasn't Scared
Even though we were packed together like the proverbial sardines and in a potentially disastrous situation in a crushing crowd of people who were on the verge of being very disappointed , it was -fun. In the nearly six hours of waiting in sub freezing temperatures I heard very few words of anger- everyone was just incredibly *nice* and, in fact, were making the entire experience oddly enjoyable. Folks took care of each other, folks cracked jokes, every time we surged en masse toward the gate (which could eventually be seen by my very tall husband), someone would intone "The surge is working!"- and eventually it was our turn to go through security and end up on the Capitol lawn just in time for the ceremony. Sadly, we surged past many other folks who also held the prized purple tickets but who were unable to get in and were chanting,"Let us in!!"
We Couldn't Have Done it Without Help
We never would have gotten through the gate if two of our early morning friends, lovely and funny African American women from Missouri,from whom we had become separted in the sad demise of the Five A.M. line, hadn't seen us in what became known as the Ten A.M. line and encouraged us to try another access point in this sea of chilly humanity. So , hey, nice Missouri women-if you're out there, thanks. You rock. Hope you got in ok too.
The Ceremony
It was beautiful. I am someone who usually only goes to DC to protest things. This time I was part of a great affirmation. I actually sang along to the National Anthem . Those of you who know me well are probably laughing hysterically as you read this. I did. I sang that unsingable song along with everyone else. I have not felt that kind of pride since John Glenn orbited the earth when I was nine. And who knew that " My County Tis Of Thee" could blow my socks right off? Oddly enough, the sun which had been behind clouds most of the morning, came out just as the ceremony was starting and went back behind clouds after the ceremony ended.
The Best Thing About the Inauguration
The ceremony was great, Obama's speech was wonderful, all the pomp and ceremony was actually really moving, we all got to wave good bye to George Bush's helicopter, but the *best* part of the whole day were the people who were there to watch and celebrate-people who had traveled from all over the country, from other countries, from *everywhere*,and they were the happiest group of people I had ever seen. I had tears in my eyes and a silly grin on my face the entire day.
To the Five A.M. Line people, especially the Women From Missouri, to the folks standing next to me during the ceremony (African American couple in their sixties with whom I exchanged teary smiles and who said,as they were leaving, "good to be with you"), to the Tall White Guy With the Tiny TV and his wife ( who was leading us in trying to police ourselves early on in the Five A.M. Line and being hilarious about it), to The High Five Kid, and to, well, everyone we saw- you are all gorgeous -you are the America I have always wanted to believe in. Thank you all, two million of you, for being a part of one of the best days of my life . Obama says it is not about him, it's about us. I am loving us right now.
And Then We Went Home
We didn't try to see the parade, it would have been hard to get to it and we were exhausted and cold. We made our way very slowly to the metro , after hanging out on the mall for a bit, and then to our hotel where we ate all the food we could find within a five mile radius, and then collapsed. We drove north the next morning and stopped for lunch at a place off the freeway. The restaurant was filled with other folks coming back from the festivities. In the ladies room I chatted with an African American woman in a pink jacket and exchanged inauguration stories. On the way out she said " I have great faith that anything is possible". I said," I hope you are right" and she said " Oh, I know I'm right - it all just starts with someone saying '' hi, how are you?'"


Cristin said...

I can totally picture your goofy tear streaked face belting out The Star Spangled Banner...

What a day... we're all lucky.

only a movie said...

Yay us. Post more photos!! Tell more stories!! I'm so happy you were able to be there.

morganackerly said...

the whole thing reminded me of woodstock. another world changing event.
very happy you were there.

Ronda Laveen said...

Nice story, crone51, I was waiting to hear how your day went. You are very resiliant.

Staci said...

Thanks for sharing this moment in time with us!!

thistle said...

OMGoodness...i got a little emotional reading this and i am Canadian. I am so happy for all you guys...and how fabulous for you to be a part of history. And Brave!...the crush of people would have freaked me out a little...but i think the fact that nothing awful happened is testament to what a great day it was!

crone51 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
crone51 said...

Thanks everyone. It was an amazing moment in U.S. history. I was grateful to be there.