Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Inauguration 2005
Originally uploaded by parapluiesdoux
After obsessively following developments for public transit for Inauguration Day, the day is here. Reporters are stationed outside Metro stations and my Google Reader was filled with hundreds of Transportation posts, most of them from The Washington Post's transportation team.

The screams and cheers on tv are unending. They parallel only to my experience with Good Charlotte or Fall Out Boy, or that one time Gavin Rossdale dove into the crowd and women fell to his feet, and in the shuffle, a woman knocked me down. But I don't think anyone on the route has a Care Bear they want signed. There are people as far as the eye can see, and it is nothing like it was four years ago.

Four years ago we boarded the train in all black and were surprised to find our car mostly empty. It never really filled, and the tourists that boarded with us got out before they could access the parade route and when we looked confused they said they were sightseeing. "We never meant to come for THIS," they said as the doors closed behind them.

We got out at the station above and the streets were empty. We were surrounded by men and women in suits and long coats, who were walking to work. One of us was one of their co-workers and he waved and smiled as they went off to law firms and cubicles. And then we walked in the snow to the protest route.

There was enough clean snow on the ground for a friendly snowball fight with the police escort, and it was the only few moments we felt relieved. There was an importance in the march, and part of it was knowing it could all go wrong at any minute. And it did, when the wingnuts got involved on the next block and an escort said, "Go home, we have to arrest everybody."

We went to Chinatown, on an empty train, and got out at an abandoned stop. We are in a restaurant that should have been full, and probably is today, but was empty. It was disappointing, and when we were seated, the televisions were turned on and up, and the staff watched and laughed with us as a news correspondent said, "THERE HAVEN'T BEEN ANY PROTESTS." And then we weren't relieved anymore, because it had been for nothing.

It's nice, nice in the American sense--pleasant, unencumbered, relieving--that the streets are filled with people. That people went to REI and bought handwarmers, and woke up early after hardly sleeping last night to fill the streets and cheer.

There have been crowds swarming around Ben's, and the streets have been a long party all night long since Friday.

So I feel like if the Inauguration is so different the next four years can bring a radical difference in the general atmosphere, too.

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