I’ve never been to an inauguration, despite my decade in D.C. So, I set out on a special Presidential Inauguration bus route, via my special Presidential Inauguration Metro card, which took me to the security perimeter. From there I walked in frigid temperatures to get to the Presidential Inauguration Metro train which would, it turns out, NOT take me to my intended destination.
Due to crowd control concerns, WMATA quickly shut down two train stations while I was underground, in transit, and packed in so tightly with other would-be attendees, that I felt assaulted every time someone moved an elbow. Everyone was aware of a different station which had been closed earlier; they announced it was unexpectedly reopening just as we pulled away from it. Too late. At this point, they had closed the last three stations at which we could have exited and we were well past the stop we needed. I started to worry about logistics as previously cheery train inhabitants cursed under their breath.
I hastily exited the Metro the moment I was able to, and I still ended up on the wrong side of the Capitol building. I had just over an hour to trudge through brutal, 11 degree weather, while attempting to avoid idling charter buses spewing exhaust, forbidding barricades, chaotic Police checkpoints and of course, thousands of people who were alternately shivering in their Uggs or shouting “Woooo! Obama!”.
The only thing I could think about was how I was thisclose to missing the whole point of the day, the whole point of the last two years, and it was all because of my bad luck with Metro. I tried to be mindful and prepare myself for the worst; if I was too late to get through security or move through the sludge of confused people faster than one mile per hour, I could say that I tried. That I had experienced the cold and the crowds and the optimism which was muffled by scarves, earmuffs and gloves. Que sera, sera…
I barely expected to make it to my rooftop viewing party in time for pomp and circumstance. I certainly did not expect to see a copy of Obama’s speech before he delivered it. And I definitely did not expect to be in tears when our new President recognized a faith which I respect, but don’t practice.
One thing at a time.