Tonight I find myself laying on the floor with my laptop not unlike any other night. As I started to scroll through my social media, I started seeing more and more inauguration posts. And I guess, I’ve started to feel a little weepy…
8 years ago, on the eve of the 56th Presidential Inauguration, I was in a major arts and crafts session. There at my dining room table along with my friends in town for the festivities, we were in creation mode. Armed with a hot glue gun, a cuffed beanie, and a sea of red, white, and blue craft rhinestones, we were hard at work on our OBAMA-themed hats.
We had spent most of the day running around in search of serious winter gear. We shopped for super long down coats, scarves, gloves, socks, etc. Sure, we already had these things but one scarf or pair of gloves or socks was simply not going to do.We searched all of the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) for hand warmers and and warm, cute snuggly hats to no avail.We finally found hand warmers in Baltimore but the hats were another story. Sure, there were street vendors everywhere selling inaugural gear but it came with a hefty price. We decided that we would head to AC Moore’s and just make our own.
The weather forecast for the next day was a blustery 28 degrees… yes, only 28 degrees. To make matters worse, that was the projected high; you know that random point in the middle of the day where the temperature would hit its peak. 28 sounded miserable but we were slated to head to the National Mall it 5am – it would be dark and super frigid as there would no sun for hours while we waited for the program. Who in their right mind would sign up for this?
Well, we did along with over 1.8 million people. From the time we walked on the platform waiting for the Metro, we were among the crowd. There were so many people up and about excited about that day too. At the wee hours of the morning, we all trekked across the lawn preparing to settle in and wait for the activities of the day.
There sandwiched between the US Capitol building in front of us and the Washington Monument behind us, we plopped down to a makeshift campsite. Everyone got where we could and we bonded in the pursuit of conserving body heat. People slept where they could and huddled with whomever was nearby. If there is any memory that still brings a smile to my face about that day, it would be that. People of all ages, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status from all over the US and the world were all there on the National Mall freezing but so happy in doing so. It was beautiful. All those people, in a tight space, with folks occasionally stepping, in the dark, and the cold, amongst strangers in your personal space, was certainly a recipe for irritation and conflict. But not that day. It was peaceful. A perfect kum by yah moment. Everyone was happy, jovial, and full of hope.
As daylight began to break, those of us who had fallen asleep began to wake up as the JumboTrons came on. It wasn’t showtime just yet, but excitement began to rise because we knew what was to come.
At some point mini-American flags were passed around. As the program began and the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama took the oath of office, I looked around and just took in the sea of flags waving in the air amongst smiles and laughter.
Admittedly, I don’t remember much from the actual ceremony. Maybe I was having too much fun laughing with my new friends or perhaps it was the subconscious worry that my painful feet would be frozen forever. Sure, I could have seen more of the behind the scenes arrivals of dignitaries or even heard more of the program had I remained at home with my TV. But I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything. I was there to experience history, front and center.
I’m not sure what the future will hold. Whether things will get better or go down hill from here on out. While the same energy is missing on the eve of the new administration, and it’s undesirably really, really different, it doesn’t matter. For eight years I was inspired, hopeful, prideful because my president was black like me, and I loved their love.
44… I’m really going to miss you…
Sending you dreamy bliss,