Now that I’m back from the inauguration festivities everyone who didn’t go wants to hear stories about what it was like.
I wish I could say I awoke at 4 a.m. on Inauguration Day, put on five layers of clothes, stuffed my gloves with hand warmers and my Uggs with toe warmers and walked a few blocks from my hotel to the Lincoln Memorial to get a good spot to watch the Jumbotron as Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s 44th President. That I huddled with the others as we tried to keep each other warm. How I wore Depends because I am averse to using porta-potties. How my toes nearly fell off from standing on the frozen tundra. But I’d be lying.
I was on my way to bed at 4:30 a.m. while some of the faithful were leaving the hotel to go get their spots. Because I work at night and covered two events on Inauguration Eve, I spent the morning sleeping. I did not sleep through the inauguration but I did watch from the bed, in my jammies, in my toasty hotel room. As much as I wanted to get dressed and go outside just to be with the people who traveled from near and far for the historic day, I didn’t. I lay glued to the coverage on MSNBC then the local NBC affiliate. I couldn’t give up my view and warmth.
But I braved the elements that evening and that was enough. Taxis were hard to come by the later it got. In the wee hours, after I left the RIAA ball, I thought I was going to have to walk an hour back to my hotel because I couldn’t find a cab. I was determined to jump in the limo with the next celeb that exited the party but none came. So I started walking toward a busy street a few blocks away.
I spotted two young white men getting in a cab and a black man trying to hustle them for saying he flagged the cab down for them. I asked the guys where they were going and they just said hop in, which I did. They didn’t want to leave me in the cold with this hustler and I appreciated it. Even if there wasn’t an unscrupulous-looking character on the corner the guys wouldn’t have left me alone at that hour. The cabbie took me to my hotel first and along the way I found out that my two American life savers did volunteer work in South Africa through an organization similar to the Peace Corps and had come to D.C. to meet with some of President Obama’s people. I told them about my 23 days spent in South Africa in 2007 and all of the problems I saw amidst the country’s beauty. I thanked them for trying to make a difference.
One of the guys put his head against the window and slept. The other was chatty with me and the Pakistani cabbie. He had lost one of his mittens so I gave him my hand warmers, to which he was grateful. I was still probably more grateful for them allowing me to share their cab. Thank you, whoever you are.