dedicated to dawnybee
So last week, Tuesday, January 20th, I had the extreme pleasure of being one of the 2 million plus people that descended on D.C that day. I don't even know where to begin. On November 4th as soon as I stopped jumping up and down and screaming with delight, I declared I was going to see that man sworn in, that nothing short of death could keep me away. And i have to say, it seemed like everyone else who came had the same idea. I met people from as far away as Hawaii, England and Germany, and young people not even old enough to vote yet who just all crowded into a car and drove non-stop until they could see the Capitol building. I'm not an extroverted person, but I've always loved people in general, and I love more than anything when they are at their best, and everyone was at their best. The energy was amazing and promising and just HAPPY. Everyone going out of their way to make sure others were safe or comfortable, which wasn't easy.
I went with a good friend of mine, Lynn and her 74 yr old mother, both are from Chicago, though Lynn lives here now. Her mother has lived in Hyde Park most of her adult life and watched Obama come up in politics, and she told me that when he ran for Congressional office (which he lost) everyone said that there was no reason why he wouldn't be President one day. She campaigned hard for him and there was no way she was missing this. The plan was to go to the airport and take a bus to nearest MD metro station that would take you into D.C, because no one was allowed to park in D.C, and it all seemed like a simple enough plan. Of course the line at the airport to get onto a bus was about 2 terminals long at 6am, and I was begining to think we weren't even getting to D.C, but some man drove up in a mini-van and offered anyone who wanted a ride to the Capital to hop in (at $10 each, which honestly was a bargain), so 30 mins later we were dropped off at the Capitol building and the place was already mobbed. We spent about 3.5 hrs just going from street to street, waiting in huge crowds all trying to get through checkpoints to make it to the mall. By 10am we were told no one was allowed to stand on the mall. So dejected, we tried to figure out what to do since it seemed ridiculous that we were 2 blocks from the Capital but wouldn't even be able to SEE the Inauguration on TV. So we started walking, and I decided we should head north, then make our way over towards the museums, and as we passed one, we saw a crowd inside. The museum (Science Museum) had their big screen on and invited people inside to watch, so we stood there nice and warm, within earshot of the Capital building watching our 44th President get sworn in. The room was deadly quiet through all of it, even people outside had stopped, trying to hear what they could from 2 blocks away. Even empty tour buses invited straggler in to watch on their little screens. Everyone just helped in any way they could to make sure everyone got a chance to see it.
Afterwards we decided if nothing else we were getting into the parade. Many officers discouraged us saying there was a minimum of 5,000 people at each entrance already, but we didn't care. We waited, and SLOWLY (there were ONLY FOUR FREAKING METAL DETECTORS for the 5K plus crowd to pass through) little by little we got closer to the parade route. It took about 2 hrs standing in line and another hour before the parade started and I was sure my feet were going to fall off, but when we saw Obama walking down the street hand in hand with Michelle it was worth it. I'd never seen a crowd go nuts like that before, and I was there for the Clinton's first Inauguration--he too had the young people all excited, but I'd never seen anything like this. The girl in front of me who was about 15 starting jumping up and down and screaming "Its Him! Its Him!!" like she was looking for a Jonas Brother. I tried hard but because my evil cat broke my camera, I only had my iphone, so I couldn't really get a picture because there were hands and bodies leaping in front of me. And most of the time, I couldn't take anything because well my fingers were frozen, but its all up in my brain:) The only pic I have of my friend and me together she has, hopefully i can get it from her (she's technologically challenged, though she bought an iphone at my urging).
I'm sure i left out stuff, but its long enough as it is. I don't think anything I can write can really capture what an incredible experience it was. Just having every single person around you all being there for the same purpose was amazing in itself. Here's to hoping i get a chance to do it again:)
Capital at dusk, just after we arrived