If you are safe and warm and on your couch watching it on TV–preferably high def. Here it’s cold, crowded, and total chaos…yet eerily quiet.
I said to Lou on the long walk back to the hotel that this is the kind of experience that gets better the farther away you get from it.
We never did get in with our blue tickets—three hours of waiting in bitter cold. No Port-o-lets! I had to find a police station six blocks away. We did finally get around to hear half of Obama’s speech—but we were so disoriented it didn’t sink in. Although I got emotional when I saw kids in the big ol’ trees watching the show.
Our highlight was, after the crowd thinned and we finally got to look at a Jumbotron, seeing Bush get in the helicopter and fly away. It was a big fat green helicopter, and some guy next to me called it a “pod of evil.”
More later, I have to let my legs recover a bit.
We are watching the parade on a staticky TV. It’s taking place a few blocks from here, but I am not leaving this bed!
What I am most struck by, being here in person, is the combination of extreme hope and excitement, mixed with the hard, cold reality of what we all face. Lou and I stood in the mall after the crowds started to leave, and I have never seen so much trash in my life. The space everyone had inhabited moments before with joy and jubilation was now a wasteland. TV sterilizes things for us. It made me realize that we have a long road ahead of us. Yes, president Obama can bring change—but each and every one of us needs to change too. Obama has brought hope, but he alone can’t sustain it—we need to live up to that hope. And I sure hope our hopes are fulfilled. But I do think I heard him say something about hard work.
We went to an unofficial environmental ball. It was oddish because it was so conventional (wedding band, cheese cubes, bedecked and bejeweled ladies). About halfway through I noticed two things: First, there were very few black people present—which was strange, considering what had gone on today. On the other hand, there were lots of frizzy-headed gray-haired ladies like me.
My favorite memory of the day was walking to the inauguration through the tunnel (I-395) that had been closed to traffic. It was crowded and people were still untired. Suddenly, one of those bicycle rickshaws drove by packed with three heavy-set black women wearing fur coats and chanting “Obama!”
The sense I am getting is that—especially in Washington because it’s a total politics town—everything has been thrown up in the air and no one knows how and where they will land, only that we all will land someplace different.
Thank God. Good night.