Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Immediate Impressions of the Inauguration

There are no words to capture the experiences of the last few days. But you know me--I'll try.

Masses of tourists descending on the city; whole streets cut off to cars for the pedestrians to take over; taking in history through a new lens at the Newseum; helping a gay couple from LA take their Christmas card in front of the Capitol ("Aren't you guys excited?! Tomorrow's the first day of a new world!"); traipsing down the Mall in the gathering dusk and cold; everyone happy; the surge of enthusiasm and engagement among the African-American community; the calls of the kitsch-salesmen--"Obama! get your buttons! hand warmers! t-shirts!"; the bedazzled everything; the foam fingers--with two fingers up for peace; the lights of MSNBC, of ABC, of CBS; the lights of the Capitol; the Washington memorial fading into evening mist; a delicious dinner thanks to our hosts; a beer out on the town with crowds of friends meeting faraway friends; getting up early early early in the dark, with cries already ringing out in the streets; a free Obama donut on the way to the Metro; the "Obama" chant ringing through the halls of Union Station as we headed to the Capitol; the people, people, people everywhere; people streaming in every gate, walking on every closed street and onramp; the sense of looming hopelessness among folks who couldn't make it onto the Mall before the gates closed; standing in the back of the room as we watched the ceremony, able to watch everyone's faces and hear the cheers on the Mall at the same time; the tears on everyone's faces during the swearing-in and the speech; the chopper lifting Bush up over the Capitol to cheers and waves of (mostly-)good-natured good riddance; the frigid march back to Dupont up Mass Ave. through the throngs; swapping stories with Jacob and Heather; the sun-filled and quietly happy and tired bus on the way home; that sense of cold and tired and happy that settles on you after a day of skiing--and apparently after a day of inauguration.

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