Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obamarama

It's really the only way to describe DC last weekend: Obamarama. One big Obamafest. Or, as one columnist put it, a combination of an Obama-themed flea market, a tour bus park, a street party and an armed camp.

Another way to describe it would be our mantra for inauguration day: "More miserable = more memorable!" The complete story:


Yes, I managed to roll out of bed with a 6 on the alarm clock, dress in five layers on top and three on the bottom, and pack sardine-like onto a train with folks from Missouri and North Carolina for what turned out to be an hour-long ride into downtown. More miserable = more memorable!

By some miracle, I actually met up with my friends (Kim, Richie, Hannah and Greg) in the throngs of people. In eight years in Washington, I've never seen anything like these crowds. We waited in line for a couple of hours -- I won't comment on the tundra that was DC except to say that I've never been happier to pay above-market price for anything than I was to purchase $5 handwarmers some lady was hawking out of a backpack. But it was ok, because more miserable = more memorable!

Our line eventually dissolved into a crowd of confused people. At one point, people started chanting, "Let us in! Let us in!" and I pictured myself actually dying heroically while protecting the two women next to me in wheelchairs from being trampled. (More miserable = more memorable?!)

We squirmed around the outer edge of the crowd to the front where security guards were turning everyone away (even though we all had tickets!), saying the mall was at capacity -- which turned out not to be true, as we found out by running half a block down and cutting onto the mall between some parked tour buses. After jumping a concrete barrier, pushing through another crowd, breezing through a make-shift security point and running across two downed fences, we ended up with a great spot on the north side of the Capitol reflecting pool -- just as the ceremony started. From there on out, it was much more memorable than miserable.

It was true -- there was real energy and comraderie in the crowd. My favorite moments of the ceremony included:
  • Aretha Franklin's song (she rocked), especially when she sang the line "Land where my fathers died" -- it gave me chills. (Yo Yo Ma was cool, too, but the slow song, although beautiful, didn't match the upbeat tempo of the crowd. I did love it later when I watched it on TV.)
  • Obama's speech, especially this paragraph:
"Those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."
  • People-watching in the crowd around me, especially all of the older African-American ladies dressed to the nines in their pearls and fur, walking with their heads high and seriously contagious smiles on their faces. The meaningfulness of this event to the black community in DC can hardly be understated and has touched me over the past couple of weeks.
So there you have it. My view of the Obamarama. But this post would not be complete if I didn't include a picture of the cookies we frosted at Collette's house sporting the Obama logo. Ryan and Kim brought some Obama cookies from New York, too -- please note the "black and white" cookie, as well as the mini-pecan pie -- "Yes Pe-Can!"

Whatever your politics, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of this weekend -- of being alive to see history in the making. Here's to America!


3 comments:

Em said...

So cool! I didn't see it on t.v, but I did listen on the radio and I was seriously picturing you with handwarmers and trying not to get trampled. :)
You're part of history in the making...

Tholstrom said...

So, discovering your blog makes me miss you all the more. My eyes are still wet from the reminders of your wonderful, open, beautiful, and always humorous little self. I miss late night chats until ah, dawn? And blow up mattresses in VA, and mostly listening and hanging on to all your deepness and entertainment. I miss you Allie. I will come to Allison Road for my daily doses of you. xo, Jo

Maxie said...

Al,
I am very jealous you were there! The history teacher in me is going nuts right now...you a part of history! Woohoo! Thanks for sharing your experience with those of us who just had to watch from home :)