Come on up for the rising! Obama is president

It was insanity. Complete chaos. It took a half hour just to get out of the Metro—in Chinatown, no less, about a mile away from the area to which my tickets supposedly entitled me entry. I didn’t even get to lay my eyes on the man himself, Mr. Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. (For a full description of the ordeal with the crowd, see my last post.)

But that wasn’t what inauguration was really about. Just like standing in line yesterday for the tickets I barely got to use, it was about being there, being a part of the seething millions who greeted this day together. And even though I didn’t see the man himself (except for his distant image on a jumbotron), I did, in a sense, see the real Obama: all of those people who came to show their support for the change that finally came.

The way I see it, we are Obama. His election is about us, coming together as American people and rejecting the politics of fear and division. Thinking independently enough that we could elect someone from outside any political dynasty, with the middle name of Hussein, with limited national experience and an attitude that, in the end, we’re all in this together.  Continue reading

Inauguration crowd control nightmare worth it to help usher in a dream

Here’s what happened. My aunt, my cousin and I left Alexandria, where I was staying along with 13 family members (the Allens rolled deep on this one—and that’s only about 10 percent of us). We caught the yellow line with the intent of transferring to the blue line, as the instructions on our ticket indicated we should do. But mid-transfer, a perplexed-looking train employee in a fluorescent vest told us that getting on the blue line was impossible. Sure enough, the blue line train was packed to the gills, despite being near the beginning of the line, and we had to get back on the next yellow line train.

It was the first episode in a series of vast crowd mismanagements that would have ruined the day were it not for the attitude—collective, I think—that it was more important simply to be present than to have the personal gratification of getting to see Obama. Continue reading

At the inauguration, solidarity and joy, even standing in line

I’m in Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of President Barack Obama (doesn’t that feel nice to say?), and like about a million other people I spent the day shuffling through crowds in 34 degree weather. It was slow going, with lines for eveything — to get into museums, to get on the metro, to get a cup off coffee.

But the atmosphere was like a love-in. People were smiling at each other, talking to strangers (no one was a stranger, in fact), expressing their happiness about the moment. Strolling around the frozen pond before the statue of General Grant and the Capitol Building — where the inauguration will take place tomorrow — there was a solidarity in the air.

I guess that’s why standing in line for three hours for inauguration tickets at Nancy Pelosi’s office was bearable — even enjoyable. It was all part of the experience. All the legislative office buildings had lines stretching for a block and a half, and Cannon House was no exception. But my dad and I spent the whole time getting to know our neighbors. Continue reading