Thursday, January 22, 2009

An Occurrence

I’m working on a less cynical outlook of the world. Obama’s inauguration was an optimism that would do well to spread. People there, all 2 million or so, politely stepped out of each other’s way and smiled with intentions that were not stretched over frowning muscles, but ones that rooted all the way to their subconsciousness. We were happy and without suspicion in Washington D.C. The electing of an African-American president disarmed the nation of uncertainty, and it did so naturally. People gave up seats and bent their knees so the person behind could see. They were happy. They were happy to be in their place, and they were happy sharing their complacency with strangers. And strangers! Strangers opened their homes to strangers. Strangers laughed with strangers and patted their backs and held their elbows through streams of more strangers. There was a selflessness there that I’ve never seen before, and there didn’t even seem to be an awareness of such graciousness. A black man would say “After you” to a white man, and the white man would say, “No, after you” before both people allowed an Indian woman to pass first. Volunteers, whose job was not to control or direct the herds of eager people, but simply to say “Welcome, welcome, welcome” with broad grins and waving hands, made me smile back and made Roger greet each one in turn with a “Hello to you” or a “Good morning to you!” You, you, you. That’s what the Inauguration was about, and in that spirit, people were happy. There were no balloons, no confetti, no party music, no booze. The weather was cold and inhospitable. My knees ached and the parts of my feet I could still feel, ached with the plight of a foot-sore tourist. From where we stood, the Washington Monument obscured the Capitol, 1.8 miles away, and there were no jumbotrons at which to gawk. We were removed but we were there and happy to be. We could only listen, and in the raptured words of an old Japanese woman beside me, “This is the perfect spot.”

2 comments:

Bash said...

Good posting.

Julie Buz. said...

I'll never forget what it felt like hearing Obama speak in Prague several months later, in April 2009.

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