It started around 9:30 in the morning. My mother, my son, my boyfriend and of course me all filed out of my uncle's house in DC. He lives a couple of blocks from the Capital building so it shouldn't have been a long walk to The Mall but the crowds added to the distance. Notice I said distance, not just time. The detours presumably set up to keep everyone safe and moving didn't just take us a little out of the way, it was like a maze! We walked under bridges and across freeways, around buses that seemed to occasionally want to move...it was crazy! You couldn't see more than a few paces in front of you so we frequently came up against small obstacles before we were able to maneuver around them and were forced to literally climb over them instead. And it was cold. For a California girl like me it was chill-to-your-bone freezing!
But no one seemed upset. Bundled up in our heavy coats, scarves wrapped tightly around our necks and skull caps pulled over our heads we, the crowd, smiled and laughed and exchanged happy conversation with one another. Everyone helped each other, and exchanged bits of advice or funny jokes. It didn't matter who was from what state or what color they were or whether they wore their religion or Atheism on their sleeve. It just felt like a really big community.
And then we got to the Washington Monument. Despite its grandeur the throngs of people around it gave the appearance that they were the ones holding it up, pointing it toward the gray sky for all to see.
We managed to get close to one of the screens and then it all started. When he was sworn in the cheers came. People weren't chanting O-BAM-A like they did during so many rallies during the election. They were crying and laughing and just overcome. Because no matter what you think of his politics there is no denying the significance of his presidency. We, as a country, have come so far and I am so very proud.
And when it was time to leave we all managed to keep it together despite the fact that the crowds had gotten even more extreme. As we all struggled to find our way (that is a way that wasn't fenced off for security reasons) we often found our path blocked by rows and row of...brace for it...porta-potties! Eventually some people in a fit of mild desperation climbed over the potties pulling their friends to the roof before they hopped off toward the exit of their choice.
We actually had tickets to a party right along the parade route. So we were going to be able to wait INSIDE with FOOD and REAL TOILETS before running out to the grounds out front to see our new president pass. But unfortunately we were blocked by overwhelmed security checkpoints. All those empty bleacher seats and stuff you may have seen on TV were actually sold out. It's just that the people who had those tickets literally weren't able to get in before the event.
But we didn't let that spoil our fun. Instead we found a sports bar and along with crowds of incredibly happy people watched the President and First Lady get out of their limo and wave to the bystanders. And despite the fact that he obviously couldn't see into the restaurant where we sat a lot of people there waved back.
And then it was time to go back to the house, change and go to the ball. That would be the official Southern Inaugural Ball that would be attended by both Biden and Obama. I put on a fantastic dress (bought for me by my man) and some Cinderella like slippers...and then chickened out, put the slippers in a bag and slipped on some tights and a pair of boots. It was twenty degrees and I was content with the idea of changing when I actually got to my destination. When I did get to the ball I discovered that a few women from the Virgin Islands had the same idea. If your from a warm climate you take the whole below-freezing-temperature thing seriously.
Anyway it was fantastic. We happened to find one of the few other non-Southern couples in attendance and hung out with them. This way we felt a little less intimidated when it came time to dance to the country music. None of us knew how to do it but at least we made fools of ourselves in a group of four rather than two.
We took lots of pictures, including pictures of the President and First Lady (which I'll post on Facebook early next week) and then we took off our shoes and partied until the wee hours of the morning.
It was a perfect day. And I'll never forget it.
Bestselling author of
The Sophie Katz Mystery Series
And So Much For My Happy Ending
Pre-order LUST, LOATHING AND A LITTLE LIP GLOSS on Amazon today!