I wish the story that I have to tell was as dramatic as this title implies but…it’s not. As you know I’ve moved home to the DC area and catapulted myself into DC life during arguably the biggest weekend of the year. I couldn’t move home without at least attempting to brave the cold and crowds on Inauguration Day right??
So that’s what I did. Emphasis on attempt. On Sunday afternoon my Mom tried to warn me that we’d have to wake up AT THE LATEST by 6am to have any hope of a good viewing spot for the swearing-in. At the last minute, one of my Mom’s friends scored me an orange ticket to the event, meaning that I had a designated spot relatively near the Capitol where I could watch the ceremony. I was psyched.
At precisely 5:58 am I was woken up to begin our pilgrimage downtown. The subway system was absolutely buzzing at 7am as people were decked out in all their Obama gear and excitedly waving American flags. I, on the other hand, was not fully awake yet and not feeling well so I stared at them in a daze. When I arrived to the stop printed on my ticket and walked to the orange gate, I was told that that particular orange gate was closed but I just had to walk a few more blocks to the blue gate where security would be accepting blue and orange tickets. Ok…red flag number one. I got to the blue gate with no problem and waited in the half overly energetic half sleeping/silent crowd as we slowly made our way through TSA like weapon detectors. All good, no problem. I continued to speed walk past signs that said “orange tickets” until I reached a wall of people all looking at each other with confused expressions.
“Attention ladies and gentleman,” uh oh. “The orange section is at capacity, you must move to the grassy area or go home” UM WHAT? Mind you it was 8 am, three full hours before the ceremony was to begin. I immediately began to panic and started calling people who could in no way help me in that moment other than to listen to me vent – my parents. After hundreds of attempts because my cell phone barely had service, I whined through frustrated tears and tried to fight an anxiety attack. “There are too many people and I can’t breathe,” I told my Dad. “I think I need to leave.” He warned me that I needed to make a decision soon because the police would start blocking off the streets. He was right. By the time I finally made my way through the crowd, the street that I needed to cross to get to the subway station was completely blocked off because the President’s motorcade was on the way. I was trapped.
Finally the motorcade passed and I practically sprinted towards Union Station with the goal of getting to an area in DC far enough away from the Capitol where I could watch the ceremony on TV without being required to either show my room key in order to enter or charge a minimum amount on my credit card. En route to Union Station I passed The George, a Kimpton property located steps away from Capitol Hill. Instinct told me to pop my head into their restaurant which was practically empty. I enjoyed the ceremony on television, probably the same way you did, minutes away from where it was actually happening. To be honest with you, I don’t think I could have had a better experience. I was warm, sipping a cappuccino, I could see EVERYTHING and I cheered with all the other excited guests in the restaurant as President Obama delivered his immaculate speech and Beyoncé almost knocked me to the floor with her rendition of the National Anthem. I’d say I found the silver lining don’t you think?
How was your inauguration experience? Did you attend a viewing party? Were you on the National Mall? Let me know!