I missed the concert! Boy was I just a little bit bummed about that. I had thought it would go 'til 7 and got into town, all pleased and cocky-like, at 4:30p, sure that even though they said the concert would start at 2:30p they didn't really mean it. I got out of the metro and started walking towards the Mall as a sea of people began to come my way. I asked the obvious question of one couple in that throng. "Is the concert over?!" They were like yeah... obviously.
So, instead of heading to the Mall, I wandered over towards the White House. (So easy!) I mosied through Lafayette Park and just soaked up the atmosphere, which was ... splendid. The energy was wonderful. People strolling, smiling, relaxed, pleased, taking photos of the White House, taking photos of the place where Barack Obama will watch the parade on Tuesday. Folks posing under the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue signs.
The only ones who seemed out of sorts were the traffic cops. One of them to a driver trying to make a left turn and looking for directions:
"Lady, I'll talk to you when you get out of my crosswalk." She had to reverse back.
Another, ferocious, to another driver sitting out in the middle of the crosswalk.
"Get back! Get Back!" She strode up to the car with such menace I thought oh, jeez she's going to climb up on to the hood.
The guy reversed.
Them, and one of the girls at Starbucks. (There are at least five starbucks within spitting distance of each other in this part of DC -- I went to three of them, the first two at which I mistook the long lines as lines for the baristas, they were in fact lines for the bathrooms). At the third one, I got served in no time but while I was there, mellow and enjoying the scene, one of the baristas was on the phone. "We're out of Milk!" she cried. "We're out of milk!" Code Red!
I had thought I wasn't going to come to Washington to witness Barack Obama's swearing in. I had convinced myself that it would be too crazy, that there would be too many people, that the lines would drive me nuts (and in fact I can't say that none of that is true -- just getting on the Metro yesterday in Vienna -- the last stop in Northern Virginia -- I had to wait about 40 minutes before I could even buy a ticket) but I am glad I am here.
Looking down the elegant avenue towards the White House, and knowing that, on Tuesday, Barack Obama will be the one driving through these gates, is moving. The old lump in the throat, pride, relief swelling in the chest.
Yes We Did. Yes We Can. Yes We Will.