My Inauguration Trip: Thawing Out and Looking Back
It’s definitely good to be home. While I love almost everything about the East Coast, and hope to live there one day, I appreciate the 60 degree nights of California!
But now that I’m home, and the inauguration buzz has diminished, I’m able to reflect on my trip. I still can’t believe that I was a ticketed guest to the inauguration of our country’s first Black president. And it was even more special because I was able to share the experience with one of my closest friends, Amanda, who I’ve known since pre-school.
Also, the fact that I’m a graduate of SJSU’s school of Journalism and won the tickets because of my writing was icing on the cake. 🙂
The first person I told after I won the tickets was my mother. To say she was thrilled/overjoyed/excited/ecstatic are understatements. She called everyone she knew to share the news. In the week before I left, she called me every night to ask had I packed yet. She requested up-to-the-minute text messages with updates about what I was doing, and where I was going. She was my guest to Congressman Honda’s reception ceremony for the ticket winners. She experienced the inauguration vicariously through me, which was fine with her because she hates the cold.
And boy was it cold.
The trip, even before the inauguration, was amazing in so many ways. I’d never visited Amanda in North Carolina, so it was nice to have that opportunity. And making the four-hour drive with her to D.C. was an adventure of its own. We saw Alice Walker, the “Refresh the World” Symposium, even just walking around Howard University (I almost went there) — it was all wonderful and unplanned, which made it even better.
The morning of the inauguration is its own memory: Waking up at 4am (having gone to bed only 2 hours earlier as we were too excited to sleep); pulling on layer, after layer, after layer … after layer of clothes to keep from freezing; rushing through the pitch-black city to the Metro, transferring trains and platforms with other inauguration-goers in a mad frenzy; fighting our way through the crowd UNRULY MOB in the Metro station, hands linked tight so we wouldn’t lose each other; running to the Silver Gate entrance (I admit that I was disappointed that we were so far away, as some other ticket winners from the contest were much closer); and finally waiting, along with thousands of others, the momentum and spirit (and size!) of the crowds building as each hour passed.
7.5 hours after waking up and 3.5 hours after getting to our viewing spot, the festivities finally began. I was relieved for many reasons, but mainly because it was the climax of weeks of waiting for this trip, months of Obama and countless other Americans campaigning for his election, and decades of civil rights tension and fights for equality in the African-American community; and also because my toes were cold numb frozen and I was in PAIN. (They took a day and a half to heal!)
The inauguration of Barack Obama was incredible, both historically and for me personally. I know how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to go and be a part of it. Watching him take the oath of office was such a proud moment, for me, my family, and everyone around us huddled together … it was the culmination of everything our country — and the African-American community (my community) — has worked for. We all cheered when we caught a glimpse of Barack Obama on the viewing screen at the ceremony, but during his speech, all 2 million of us were silent. It reminded me of election night, when a much older, African-American woman standing next to me proclaimed, “this is our new Dr. King.”
Looking back, I was right in thinking that the trip would go by too quickly … but I will keep these memories with me forever. And one day, when I have children, I will share these memories with them. Because I was one of a few who were able to go to D.C. and I was one of few who had tickets. And I would not trade the experience for anything in the world.