Thursday, January 22, 2009

And when the clearing ended into a thicket we heard the sounds the night was making. Such a tender hostility exists in texas hill country; how we held hands at it. A deer in the road stared at me and then leapt straight into the air as we drove in reverse. The country constellated sky (understand this as my secret language for farewell). I navigated some natural way--I could feel the water pulling me north then west. An internal compass rooted in the muddy banks. A valley and a hill, again; the temperature changing 12 degrees. There is no language for what came next. We invent:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yesterday, thanks to my amazing sister and her amazing boyfriend, I got to be a witness to one of the most historical things that will happen in my lifetime. I know it's cheesy, but it was seriously the coolest thing I have ever been a part of. I'd like to write my account of the day now, while the memories are fresh in my mind because it's a story I will get to tell for the rest of my life.

We spent the night at tim's apartment because he lives in adam's morgan which is a lot closer to downtown than cate's. We woke up around 7:30 and left by 8. We figured if we absolutely had to, we could walk. BUT we were lucky and a relatively empty s bus pulled up right as we got to the stop. We took that down to L street and 16th and began our walk to the mall. I'm so glad I have no idea of the lay of the land there or how far we had to walk because I just enjoyed conversation and all the crazies out and about rather than focusing on the 2 miles I would be walking. The sidewalks were full of people selling t shirts, buttons, and hand warmers. Tim planned ahead and picked some hand warmers up for all of us and those proved to be life savers. One man was selling buttons for $5!!!!!! I thought that was ridiculous. I still do.

Our tickets were for the silver section--standing room behind the reflecting pool on the capitol side. In order to get to the entrance, we had to be on the opposite side of the mall. With everything blocked off, the only way we could get there was via tunnel. It was pretty eerie--they had closed it off to traffic so it felt a lot like an end-of-the-world disaster movie: a tunnel wall to wall with people walking out of town, the occasional cop car, inaudible mumbles. There were thousands of people walking through that tunnel with us and it was just a really surreal image. Once we got to the other side, we made our way to 3rd and independence--where the silver gate was supposed to be. We spent close to 30 minutes walking the length of the line, trying to find the end. It zigged and zagged around blocks and buildings--we thought we'd never find the end. Cate says she read somewhere it was ultimately 11 blocks long and I believe it. We finally found the end and felt really bummed out. The line was several thousand people long and not moving; there was no way we'd be getting in. We comforted ourselves saying at least we got to be NEAR it, at least we got to see all the crowds of excited people. It was 9:45 when we started waiting and we decided if we hadn't moved by 10:20, we'd give up and head to Tim's friend's family condo down on Pennsylvania Ave. and watch everything from there. Thankfully the line started moving a little after 10 and by the time 10:20 rolled around we were almost in. It was bizarre--the line started moving and remained orderly for a few blocks, but once we rounded a corner, instead of snaking through the buildings like we had on our way in, the line just dissolved and everybody was making a rush towards the gates. i'm glad i'm not claustrophobic because at times it was a very tight squeeze through all the crowds. Cate, Tim and I all held hands and made a human chain so we would stay together and we finally made it in. Once we were inside, it wasn't crowded at all. We first went in through the second half of the silver section and quickly decided we weren't even going to bother with trying to get a good view of the jumbo tron. there was a road separating the silver section in two and we decided to cross and head into the front part. there were border patrol officers standing at the crossing trying to keep order so nobody got trampled. i thought it was very fitting. we crossed the street and got into a pretty open part of the field from which we could see the top half of the stage in front of the capitol building. by the time we were all settled in it was about 10:50 so we entertained ourselves for about 40 minutes. poor tim. if anybody has spent any amount of idle time with cate and i, they can understand how weird we can get. there was lots of dancing, marching, rolling around on the ground. all in all, we were laughing and having fun and trying not to think about how cold we were.

the ceremony started. i'm not sure i can remember the exact order of things. lots of people came out and were introduced. my friends have told me the tv stations muted this part, but when bush walked on stage, the crowd went nuts--not in a good way. people were booing like crazy and chanting "nananana hey hey hey goodbye" which was very embarrassing. look, i don't really like him either and THANK GOD he is leaving office, but this wasn't a protest or a rally--it was the formal inauguration ceremony. have some respect. this event is all about the peaceful transition of power that makes our democracy so awesome so please save the boorish behavior for another occasion. aretha frankling sang my country tis of thee and it was incredible. a lot of fancy people played john william's "air and simple gifts" which was so beautiful. cate tried to remember the words to it to the best of her ability. then rick warren stepped up and gave the invocation. i was happy to hear him use inclusive rhetoric but i know a lot of people were surprised by his decidedly christian prayer--closing the whole thing with the lord's prayer. joe biden was sworn in and cate almost cried. obama was sworn in and cate cried. i was way too excited and happy to cry plus i think by that point my tear ducts were frozen shut. obama's speech was so moving and it was incredible to be THERE and hear him deliver it IN PERSON. every time i turned around, I could see the crowd of millions stretching past the monument. and they all had little american flags that they were waving and it was such an incredible sight to see. it made the size and magnitude of the crowd so physical. i got chills when obama said "...know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." YES. this is the president we need right now! It's like west wing BUT IN REAL LIFE. I am so excited because this is the first time that I am old enough and mature enough to appreciate a president who i actually agree with. I can't wait to see what happens.

So then the poet started to read, but at this point everybody was leaving and I couldn't hear anything and so we started to make our way out. We were heading over to Tim's friend's condo so that we could warm up and watch the parade. They live on Pennsylvania, right behind the canadian embassy. We tried to head over there, but the roads were blocked for the parade route and we couldn't cross even though we could see their building from where we were standing! So we had to turn back, make our way back across the mall, back into the tunnel and around that way. There was a man selling photographs of obama and MLK "conversing in the oval office" and cate and i really regret not buying one bc cmon how ridiculous is that. We got to the Wards' condo which was super swank. They had some brunch and delicious hot chocolate. I took a little nap sitting up on the couch much to Cate's horror but I was so exhausted! My eyes wouldn't stay open! When the parade started, we headed up to the roof. We had a really great view of the front of the national archives, so when the Obamas got out of the car and started walking up the street, we could see it all. It was awesome! Everyone was going nuts! It was crazy being up on the roof and seeing all the snipers set up EVERYWHERE. there were at least 4 guys on every roof. I'm so glad no funny business went on. Once we couldn't see the Obamas anymore we went inside, said our goodbyes, and began the long journey home. We walked a good ways out of the mess of downtown and picked up a cab and drove the rest of the way to Tim's.

All in all it was an amazing experience that I am still processing. I'm so excited for the beginning of a new era in american politics. YES WE CAN!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

There was a dialogue we used to share, there were words we are not allowed anymore. He has hiddens only I know. He has forgotten mine. He does not care to remember the softest stretch of skin. Maybe another—something. There is no visiting time or our stifled vocabularies and I refuse to believe because happens never stops. He is standing in the doorway now or then and I am saying don't. I feel him most in the places he won't touch. Be quiet. I am dreaming.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Every seven years
the body becomes
new on a cellular level.

For each second inside
of us there are little
births we cannot recover.