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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration

Where I should be: the Western Ball with my cousin wearing the turkey cutlet gown and a pair of 3 inch black satin slides.

Where I am: at home.

My cousin wanted me to go to the ball with her and I have to tell you that even though I am completely anti-dressing up (which goes along with the anti-shaving-my-legs and the how-the-hell-do-you-apply-eye-make-up side of me) and it would have easily taken five hours of standing in freezing cold temperatures wearing nothing but a skimpy dress and I probably would have had my breasts fall off from frost bite, I really really really wanted to go to the ball. Not for the actual party, but just to be close to everything.

Seeing it on television made me want to go rub my cheek on the Mall grass.

Back in college and grad school, we had this Capitol step my friends and I always parked ourselves on for the Fourth of July fireworks. It was a small group that included two of my cousins, including this one who worked for Obama in Florida and came down for the Inauguration and held an extra ticket to the ball. Josh ruined this tradition the first year he joined us and told us that sitting in direct sunlight for hours in high humidity was just plain stupid. That shade was "better." Seeing our old fireworks-watching spot on television today made my heart swell. Because the last time I sat in that spot was the Fourth of July prior to Bush becoming president. Isn't that strange to think?

Seeing Obama speaking several stories above our step made me feel like we had reclaimed the space. You better believe we're parking ourselves in direct sunlight again this July.

The twins loved watching the coverage, screaming out the names of buildings they recognized on the Mall or along the parade route (and I was corrected as always when I said it was the Air and Space Museum and the ChickieNob told me that it was the "Outer Space" Museum. I think she often wishes I wasn't quite so dense). They kept saying, "what if Daddy looked out his window and saw Barack Obama?" and I had to explain that he was actually six blocks away and that city blocks are actually much larger than Lego blocks.

I think this moment summed up the day for me: I burst into tears when I saw the First Family walk through the doors at the end of the parade, sobbed and sobbed, reassuring the twins for the 90th time that these were happy tears. I finally cleaned myself up and then they showed a replay of the moment and I cried all over again. I cannot wrap my mind around it, the enormity of the whole day. Of the next four years.

I spoke to my cousin before she left for the ball and she sent some pictures from the morning. I am so bummed that I wasn't on the Mall and I'm so glad that I watched Obama become president from my nice warm house. I can't imagine damp cheeks would feel too good in this weather.





16 comments:

Kristin said...

As fabulous as the ball would have been, aren't you glad you watched it with the twins? Love the pics.

Michelle said...

That place looked like it was crazy. It was probably better that you stayed home but I know what you mean about wanting to be there. It had to be one great experience!

Jen said...

I looked for you on TV today. I saw someone that looked like you, but it wasn't. (But you know that, being that you were in your house and all.)

The Steadfast Warrior said...

The President of my company invited all who wanted to watch the speech in his office. I missed it (darn!) but watched other parts. I am so excited and I'm not even American! Watching the Neighbourhood Ball as I type this. I can understand wanting to be warm and cozy in your house and I bet the twins will be glad someone can tell them about this special day if they don't remember it themselves.

luna said...

what an amazing day. definitely wonderful for you to share those precious moments with the twins. can't believe josh made it in to work.

I was in DC one 4th of july and they did have the best fireworks.

Lori said...

Tessa (home from school, sick) and I watched together, making a memory.

Please tell your cousin thanks for sharing her experience with us outlanders!

Cassandra said...

Okay, sweetheart, you need a fabulous overcoat. You're not supposed to wear just a gown outside in the winter.

If you haven't procured one by 2013's inaugural ball, let me know and I can lend you one.

Princess Jo said...

Mel, I completely agree with you it was an awe inspiring moment, even for someone like me who lives half a world away (Australia) and whom has never been to the U.S in my life.

Here in Australia, a lot of people were simply relieved to see the back of Bush. Put simply, we had hoped that the American people would do the right thing after so many years of the Bush insanity: and unfortunately Australian lives have paid for Bush's mixed up logic (and our own ex-prime minister who sent us to a war which never truly involved us). There is a lot of bitterness and no love lost here for the outgoing president (and our ex-prime minister). Obama, on the other hand, well! There is a lot of hope for America now. Australians have put a lot of faith and stock by Obama, which I think is deserved.

May he live up to our expectations!

Jo

lostintranslation said...

I would have liked to be there too (and maybe even more so in Chicago on Nov 4th) but had to do with French TV coverage. I had to turn it off after his speech because I couldn't stand the French voice-over and the constant commenting (even during music etc) of the French journalists any more (and the NYT live web coverage was unfortunately stalling too much).

Have to go read a transcript of Obama's speech later as well, because as always when I try to follow the original language while some French translator is doing the voice over on a higher volume, I don't retain either one...

calliope said...

I so get the desire to want to BE there- and you actually had a real possibility! But after every, 'I wish I was THERE" pain of angst I had I would think, "but how would I pee??" I think being able to watch it with your kids is huge and awesome. AND having a cousin that can send you photos from the thick of things? Even better!!!

loribeth said...

It would have been fun to be there... but I also understand the desire to stay warm & cozy with the twins!! One of the girls from my department actually went down this past weekend with her husband. We kept joking we could see her in that huge mob on the Mall.

There were about 25 of us (including some people I'd never seen before from other departments who heard we had a TV set...!) crammed into our tiny boardroom. I didn't cry, but I sure felt like it. What an amazing day.

Dh called me later to tell me when they were walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, and said, "I can't believe how beautiful those buildings are." I said, "We HAVE to go there someday." I've wanted to go to Washington ever since I was a kid & read a book where the Bobbsey Twins visited during cherry blossom time, lol.

Anyway, I ran to the office TV set just as they were walking by the Canadian embassy. I was the only person watching who was able to identify the building. : ) And as I said, I've never been to Washington either.

B said...

With Jo down here in the sort of weather that is so hot it could "cook a chook in the fridge" (as I heard a talkback caller say).

Even one of the Indian amachi's (grandmas) I had dinner with on Tuesday assured me she was getting up at 3 am to watch this. And then moved onto a hilarious conversation in which the white house (as in the actual building) was well and truly second rate compared to the Indian equivalent in Dehli.

So, hope is fluttering in hearts right round the world. I even had a moment today when i thought "What would Obama do?"

Vintage Mommy said...

I was either grinning or weeping all day . . . I couldn't turn off the TV. Vintage Girl had made me a "tear box" on election night and it sure came in handy again today (she's very clever, that little girl)

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead (childish I know but thank G-D it's over)

Sarah said...

we lived four blocks from the capitol until a few years ago and had our own moments along the lines of seeing your step. we probably would have gone if we didn't have piper, but i too was so glad to see it all on TV. i wouldn't have missed aretha's AWESOME hat for the world.

SarahSews said...

I love it when you write about DC -- it makes me homesick for a place that was only home for a while, a special while but just a while nonetheless. I watched yesterday thinking of all the times I'd been to those places (the mall, climbing on the statues, the reflecting pond, the Capital steps, Penn Ave.) and was wistful that I was watching from my couch with a napping Charlie boy instead of in the midst of it all. At least my spot came with warmth and a bathroom. :)

Paz said...

being at home, watching it together, having them learn from your reactions, your comments made it special for your children.

I chose to be at home too and I live very close to the action. The streets were filled with people, all walking in one direction. That alone was very exciting.