If my days were a magic trick, they would be the disappearing coin trick.
If my days were a stain on a shirt, someone must be washing them with tide ultra max laundry detergent.
If my days were a celestial object, they would be shooting stars. Here, then gone, before I even realized it was here to begin with, and then having someone say "WHOA, DID YOU SEE THAT ONE?" only to have me answer, "See what one?"
My days, as you can see, have been disappearing before my very eyes, leaving me at the end of them, trodding up to bed to wait for a routine process that repeats all too quickly. At times, it almost feels like I'm back in South Africa, only technically, here at home, I have a million and a half more things to keep me occupied. This is nothing like my life in South Africa, but I still feel feelings of being trapped and scatterbrained, unable to focus on simple tasks at hand.
But only when I'm home. That's why I've been traveling so much.
Back to January....
The walk to the mall
Since the tears first ran down my face at 6am (South Africa time) on the day after election day, I made a promise to myself: If I was home in January, I was going to the inauguration. No bones about it. I had missed out on enough history and happenings since being away, and if I was home, there was no excuse for me not to be present with millions of other people witnessing such an event.
See, I've been an Obama guy since 2004. I think it's safe to say that he won over a lot of young starry-eyed folk such as myself [and more seasoned older folk as well] with his DNC speech back all those years ago. In the fall of 2006 when he was toying around with the idea of running for president, no one gave him a snowball's chance. But I kept telling people close to me to just wait. I knew he was exactly the type of leader the country was pining for after such a dismal past 8 years. The rest of the country just didn't know it yet. I felt something telling me that this was entirely possible, when everyone else was saying no.
I wish I had been home for events pre-election time. I wanted to hit the streets and do what I could to campaign for the man, but I accepted that I made a choice to be abroad and spend my time, energies and efforts working with our brothers and sisters in Africa.
Anyway, the time for swearing in came, and I found myself in DC on inauguration day.
How was that day? For starters, the word "cold" doesn't come near to describing the temperature outside.
I was staying at my wonderful friend Rachel's apartment. We woke up at ass o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, the darkness outside penetrating my brain, telling it "GO BACK TO SLEEP MORON."
I would not go back to sleep. We had to hit the road. No one really knew what to expect at any point during the day.
I began dressing.
I had 7 layers up on my torso. I was good and toasty up in the chestular region. I thought that would be enough.
The crowds were massive. The security was everywhere. You could buy anything Obama-themed you wanted. People were selling everything in existence from buttons, to bandanas, to hats and gloves, to framed photos of Obama next to Jesus (a bit much, if I do say so myself), and my personal favourite, Michelle Obama monthly wall calendars.
We managed to get a spot about 4 mall sections back from the Capitol reflecting pool, right by the Art Museum. We parked ourselves around 7:30 am in view uf a jumbo-tron, and had a surprising amount of space around us. We had hand and toe warmers with us, but in my opinion, they should be renamed hand luke-warmers, because they did jack for my outermost appendages.
I was with Rachel and two of her friends from college. To pass the time, we played games like, "Guess Which Finger Isn't In My Glove" as well as, "You Hold This Hand Warmer Against My Face Then I'll Do The Same To You" and my personal favourite, "Can You Check To See If My Feet Are Still Attached To My Body? I Feel As If Someone May Have Amputated Them Due To Severe Frostbite From This Face Numbing Cold Weather".
My feet felt like they were soaking in buckets of ice for the entire length of the morning. It actually drove me a little bonkers.
The morning view
Though the weather was frigid, the people were many, and the waiting time long, there was an air of contentment all around that could not be denied by anyone. I noticed it throughout the entire day. No matter how crowded a section of people would get, no matter how slow moving a mass of bodies was progressing, no matter how many accidental bumps, knocks or mishaps occurred, everyone was amazingly calm, cool and collected. It's difficult to describe accurately - being from NY and having spent lots of time among masses of people, I never expected a crowd this large to be so docile. It was unreal.
I brought my camera along with me for the day, but it was so cold and I was so miserable throughout the morning, that I took it out very little. Cold temperatures zap the battery life down to nothing as well, and in addition, Obama was about a mile away at the Capitol, so I couldn't exactly snap a photo of him with his hand on Lincoln's bible.
I did manage to get some crowd shots. Being 5' 9" is not an ideal height for taking crowd shots when you're stuck smack dab in the middle of it all. But I had an idea to solve the problem posed by my vertically challenged stature. I braved the cold, took off my gloves and got to work - I painstakingly attached my camera to my tripod, expanded the legs as far as they would go, set the auto focus on the camera, shrunk the aperture to f22, set the timer for 10 seconds, pressed the shutter, hoisted up the unit, aimed, and waited for the shutter to click. I felt like Macguyver. With better hair. Even though I'm losing it.
The day was exhausting, but it was worth every ounce of energy spent getting thru it. I felt most alive during certain parts of the day when the words of those speaking at the Capitol melted into me like butter on freshly made pancakes.
I would savour the sensation of those moments when the tears slid down my face and froze on my cheek. Those moments when I would well up with pride, hope and optimism for the days ahead.
It was a day I needed very much for myself. It was a day the country needed for itself.
The day delivered.
Let's hope my man can too.