Here it is. The long awaited report of Inauguration Day! In hind sight, we had a charmed experience. For days afterword, we heard about all the people with tickets who were turned away. Or even worse, the people who were stuck in the tunnels for hours. None of that happened to us.
Instead, we woke up at about 8 and went around the corner from the place we were staying to get a cup of coffee and a muffin. The coffee shop literally didn't have a line, even though there were thousands of people in the vicinity. The single mindedness of the crowd was astounding. Everyone near us had tickets, and they were all focused on getting to their designated standing area. However, we are heavily addicted to coffee. Our first goal was caffeine. And once we got it, we were very happy girls indeed.
Deanna and I separated from the friends we stayed with. They had silver tickets, and we had purple. Purple tickets were supposedly for "dignitaries." At least that's what NPR had been reporting. But not really how we experienced it.
We had to walk about 15 minutes to get to the gate we could enter at. Because of where we started and the tickets we had, we were swimming upstream. However, this was the moment that the excitement of the whole weekend caught up to me. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of excitement and contentment. I had taken off my gloves and was warming my fingers with my coffee. I was perfectly content with my world. The excitement of the crowd was contagious. Really the whole weekend, people were amazingly friendly and polite. Especially for that many people, and especially for Washington DC.
When we found our gate, we had to wait in line to get in. This was maybe the one rough part of the process. It was a little unclear what gate we were supposed to be at, and there were people of other ticket colors mixed in with our line. Deanna and I talked about this afterword, and we are not really sure what we did right to get in. People who were there hours earlier than we were didn't make it. So somehow we just managed to be at the right gate at a good time. There was a little anxiety from the people around us at this stage. At this point, Deanna and I started singing "love, love, love" and the people around us joined in for "love is all you need." The Beatles are always good for a sing-a-long.
One they opened our gate, and we had to go through security. And something happened that puzzles me still. I had a sandwich, a granola bar and two apples in my bag. The security guard confiscated one apple. So either it take two apples to make a bomb, or they did such a poor job searching my bag that they missed the second apple. Not exactly confidence inspiring either way. So I got one apple into the inauguration, one apple out of inauguration and ate it for lunch the next day at work.
Once we were in, we scouted out a good spot to stand. Again, we made friends with the people around us, everyone was truly happy to be there. We had a group conversation about who we "hustled" to get tickets in the purple section. And I must say, thank you Washington state, that was truly the easiest hustling I've ever done.
So we got to our place at a little before 10 am, maybe. And the musical entertainment started at 10. We spent the next hour and a half singing songs, playing word games with each other, chatting up the people around us, and occasionally jumping up and down out of sheer excitement.
Honestly, the inauguration ceremony itself is a bit of a blur. We couldn't actually see very well. I could see the gumbo tron pretty well on my tiptoes. Deanna is a little shorter and had some trouble seeing. When the president and his party started entering the area, we could see them on the screen. They got huge cheers and applause. This was the third time that I have been able to see Barack Obama speak in public, which is something I honestly never dreamed I would get to experience. I think the actual swearing in was my favorite part. That is truly the moment that I will be glad I was present for.
After the inaugural address (which I had to watch at home later to really be able to concentrate on) people started to leave. This was the point of the day when I sort of went limp. I was ready for the weekend to be over, but getting home was going to be a monumental challenge. So we went back to the apartment we'd slept at and retrieved our stuff. We drank hot chocolate and waited a few hours before braving the journey home. I was home and in my bed for a nap by 5 pm. I took an hour nap, and got ready for the inaugural ball at Westmoreland Church.