105 Ways to Give a Book

The Inauguration

Barack ObamaGoing to an Inaugural Ball is a surreal experience. You are dressed like a movie star, but you are checking in for the party at 5:00 p.m. like you were a senior citizen catching the Early Bird special at Denny’s. You’re prepared to wait in the cold with your warm dress coat and cashmere scarf, but there is nothing you can do about your feet frozen in their strappy Prada heels you bought on eBay. The music is too loud to talk, but you don’t know anyone to chat with anyway — even though you share the crowded space with hundreds of people. But for all this, the five minutes that President Obama and his wife grace the room will make the experience completely magical.

Or so I hear.

I was at home cleaning the hamster cage and wondering why the stylish Mrs. Obama chose to wear the dress of a 1980s debutante.

Like Cinderella, I didn’t get invited to the ball. And without a fairy godmother to swoop me into DC over the closed bridges (do pumpkin coaches count as official vehicles?), I stayed home with the family for the day and watched the whole Inauguration on TV. But it is a really good TV.

My family vetoed the trip downtown. Repeatedly, since I kept bringing it up. I think it was the last rally that did them in, and I honestly can’t blame them. The day before the election we spent an hour in traffic, ended up parking our car in a subdivision, walked two miles to the rally, waited an extra hour for Obama to get there, slowly made our way out with a crowd of 100,000 people, and walked two miles back to the car. The idea that the Inauguration could be more difficult to attend was far too much for my family.

And really, until they closed our highways and bridges into the District, Virginia had been lucky in the Obama camp. My family saw him three times. At an event in Fairfax, we were so close that could see his every gesture. As he walked out, my youngest got to shake his hand.

So yesterday, I left the TV on all day and we watched. We were reverently silent as he took the oath of office and as he gave his address. We smiled at Sasha’s thumbs-up gesture to her dad. We cheered as the millions of people on the mall waved their flags. I couldn’t be there, unless I acknowledge that we were all there. In spirit, in dreams realized, in hope unfurled — we were all there.

Eh, who am I kidding? She was there. She was really there (waiting for the story...). I was on the couch in my Obama T-shirt and ripped jeans eating Fritos. But it was still good.

7 comments:

Vivian said...

Man...to have been there. What a fantastic day, and I wasn't too sure I liked the gown, until I saw a picture up close. Up close, the gown is beautiful. No matter what, the First Lady looked radiant and that probably says it all.

I finally got my list up! Thanks again for the award. It was quite the honor.

Bianca said...

What a great post!

Alycia in Va. said...

Okay- you totally had me fooled at first and I thought you actually went. We watched it at a church gathering and it was fantastic. I didn't care for the gown much either but she looked really pretty still...if only I had toned arms too :)

web said...

It was awesome. I don't think I've ever felt so much like a regular American before, actually caring about stuff other people care about. It was the first non-voting political event I've ever been interested in.

Terry said...

I was so-o-o convinced you had snagged an invite and would be a belle at the ball. I won't tell you about the "Yeah" I yelled when I read your first paragraph ... but now it's all good.

Kelly Fineman said...

I had a friend who flew from Texas with her mother to be there. But after the hours and hours in the freezing rain at the rally on November 4th in Chester, there was no way I was signing on for all the traffic and walking and standing for this. But I did sit and watch pretty much all day, becoming quite teary on many occasions, including when the quartet played - it was the sheer joy on Yo Yo Ma's face that did me in.

I watched the ball, too, wondering why Michelle was wearing what appeared to be a tattered 80's deb gown.

Susan Kusel said...

Great post, Pam. Not to worry, story is forthcoming. =)