Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Inauguration Day Experience

In 2005, even though I'd voted for Bush, I didn't bother to attend the Inauguration or Inaugural Parade. I just honestly don't care that much about politics, I didn't want to deal with the crowds, and my roommate and I figured we'd rather stay home and watch soap operas. Who would expect that a Presidential Inauguration would pre-empt All My Children?

My fear of crowds was clearly much worse this year, since the crowds would be much worse. I watched the Inaugural Concert (who knew there was such a thing?) on TV in Rhett's living room, and didn't make any plans to go to the Inauguration itself. Monday, though, I started feeling like I was going to be missing out. It is kind of a big deal, after all. I made plans to try to meet up with friends for the parade. Parades are fun, regardless of what they're celebrating.

Once I got downtown, I realized that we were heading at the parade route from opposite sides, so I would have to cross Pennsylvania Avenue to get to where they were. After walking for a while and half an hour or 45 minutes in line, I started to hear whisperings from the people around me that no one was being allowed to cross the parade route, not even at the designated crossing points that had been advertised beforehand.

I had told my friends earlier that if it didn't look like we'd be able to meet up, I'd just go home. Parades are fun, unless you're watching them alone in a crowd. But I was already there, I was already waiting, I was in the one security line that seemed to be moving. Wouldn't it be too much of a waste to go home without even giving it a shot? I stayed in line, but I wasn't happy about it. I was getting quite depressed about prospect of waiting for 4 hours (turned out to be 5, but I couldn't have forseen the delay from Sen. Kennedy's seizure), alone, with no one to talk to, just to watch a parade celebrating a man whose ascent to the Presidency worries me more than it pleases me.

Then Rhett called. Even though he and his mom had had tickets to the Inauguration itself, the crowds were so bad they couldn't even get inside the gate to get to their seats. They had turned around and gone back to his apartment to watch on tv. I joined them. He gets stuck outside of presidential inaugurations at the same time I do; that's why I love him.

It was still maybe not my favorite way to spend the day; he, his family, and all of his friends are staunch Democrats who love Obama and hate Bush. I'm a right-leaning moderate who doesn't really like Obama, and doesn't really like Bush. I was not 100% on board with the champagne toast when Obama took the Oath of Office, nor with all the clapping when Bush left DC in what would formerly have been Marine One, but I'm not quite at the place yet where I want to have political arguments with Rhett's mother, so I drank my champagne, didn't clap, and watched tv without talking much. Still, it was a heck of a lot warmer than the Mall, and after something like 5 hours of Inauguration coverage and updates on Ted Kennedy's condition (which would have been welcome had they been updates, but since they were just repitions of the same information at 15-minute intervals, it got a little grating), we were able to change the channel and watch Cash Cab.

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