As the inauguration approaches, my inner-grump begins to emerge. I remember past Inauguration Days all too well. The freezing temperatures, the huddled cold masses of bodies searching for available viewing spots and Port-o-Potties. I distinctly recall leaving off that crucial layer of thermal underwear because I thought someone might actually care about my bulky, unsightly jeans.
This particular year, worst of all, the District is cautioning residents daily to not rely on our normal modes of transportation–the fabulous Metro, Buses, our cars–because security will be so tight and the lines so long, that chances are we’ll be outside the security perimeter come swearing-in. I can’t even go to work that day because our building is way, way to close for comfort and will be shut down.
Then there are the Don’t-Get-Me-Started Balls. First of all, they’re not balls. At a Ball, the coat check isn’t a mosh pit with hundreds of long, black wools ending up on a grimy floor. At a Ball, it’s possible to dance without smelling what the couple next to you had for dinner. Oh, and at a real Ball, there might actually BE dinner…not wine in a plastic cup that costs $5.00 and boxes of peanuts and a white bread sandwich for a few extra bucks. These, er, gatherings should be called exactly what they are: hysterical parties. This is all perfectly fine—for those who have extreme bladder endurance, coats they don’t give a hoot about, and have learned over the years NOT to wear anything full-length because it will inevitably wind up with at least one large footprint or unsightly tear.
See? The inner-grump emerges.
Yet, this year, there’s just no way I can sit home. My mother announced she’d be traveling to D.C. to take my darling 10-year-old niece to witness this event of history. Mackenzie is over the moon about the trip and has persuaded her teachers to let her go, a full report promised upon return. My mother says she’s never been more excited about a president since JFK–and there was no way she could go to that inauguration when she was 10. Being smack-dab in the middle of these generations, how can I not witness what shall surely be a spectacle?
But as fun as our adventure getting to the Mall might be, I know deep down they’re only part of the reason I’ll make the trek. Even though the economy is teetering on a precipice, even though everyone I know (generally parents with small kids) aren’t buying a thing because they’re scared of spending, and even though many people I know are in serious danger of losing their homes, not to mention their jobs, there is something stirring. In the midst of all uncertainty, this president-elect is ushering in a palpable, undeniable feeling of hope. The hope has spread across this huge and multicolored continent and tomorrow it will emerge in human form in one three-mile stretch from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial. Touching that, being a part of that illogical optimism that might actually make perfect sense, will be well worth the cold feet.
This Inauguration—this beginning—is also the time for me to depart Shared Space (Those corporate budget cuts run deep!) I’ve loved spending time with you. Thank you for writing in, sharing your thoughts, and being a part of something that is bigger than all of us.
First appeared on rd.com, January 7, 2009.