Thursday, January 22, 2009

1/20/09 My Story

Wow, a new way to communicate...thank you to Lisa Finness (friend from Edina and member of our Education and Outreach Working Group for the Edina Energy Commission). As Lisa says now I have a running document of my life.

In Morgantown WV, I wanted to see some new territory, miss the toll roads and now I can take the southern route, I-70, to Indy.

Tuesday was quite an experience from the crowded, happy Metro ride and 6:30 am to Union Station, watching people pour out of the Amtrak trains all excited and confused about where to go and what to do.

I choose to hang out for a while waiting for the coffee shop upstairs to open up, chatted with a couple from VA who were chef and helper for one of the big Inaugural Balls in the Evening, a group of sleepy college students for Campbell University in NC and a 7 month pregnant Mom with her husband wanting to be present at this most auspicious day.

Finally ready to make my move, I bundled up and stepped into the light.

The flow of people was amazing and actually somewhat chaotic b/c there were many different locations to enter the viewing grounds...I just wandered around enjoying the energy and moving towards to Capitol Bldg which I hadn't been near on this trip. I also had my assignment from RPCV Mike Tidwell to sign up people from Virgina for his Climate Change Action list but for now just observing was #1.

I watched people with tickets go thru the security process thru a fence and stasrted heading towards the Mall with the Throngs of non ticket holders (1.8 million I heard). While I was walking I met an African American women named Charlene who was working on a petition for Dafur...I signed, we chatted, neither of us had a ticket or knew exactly how to proceed to our destination. I said I'd check with "info" police , Charlene would pray and we'd meet back. After getting directions and checking back with Charlene and the long walk ahead of us, I took a deep breath, looked at the long line of "yellow ticketed " folks streaming by us and announced "I've come all the way from Minnesota and have no ticket. I know that some of you have extra tickets in your pockets and was wondering if you'd be willing to share them....thank you very much"....the crowd laughed heartily, I felt slightly embarrassed and turned to Charlene who was smiling this big old smile. 20 maybe 30 seconds later 2 young women came to us with a purple ticket and a silver ticket so happy to find someone to use the tickets....Charlene and I hugged, we took our photo...see attached (if I can figure out how to do it) and right away other people started coming up asking how we got the tickets.

I guess life is just waiting for us to invite ourselves to the ball.

Ticket in hand, I started streaming with the Purple Team on the street. The friendly women next to me was with friends who all had purple tickets but she had a yellow one." Wait, I have a purple ticket , let's switch"...she was so happy and I got a yellow ticket...right up front near the podium, well about 200 meters away but hey, beats being a mile I switched lines and the yellow line started moving towards the Rayburn Senate Office building at the security post.

I will pick this thing up tonight where ever I happen to land...but let me close with the speech in the bright sunshine, man from London, baby eating rice crackers with her bi racial parents, black couple filming the whole thing and so happy they could hardly stand it....walking up on the stage, seeing the Military band break down, watching the presidential luncheon on the jumbo tron and THEN

the high lite for me...George and Laura, Barack and Michelle walking down the stairs on the other side of the Capitol to say good bye (Photos)...and while I'm shooting video of the helicopter lifting off on the jumbo tron, the real thing flies over our heads and I's over.......the 8 years of feeling like I had a president who didn't know or care a thing about regular people and who did so much damage to our precious planet is now finally and forever gone. What a feeling!

After wandering the emptying grounds and picking up a few gloves, blankets, hats to give away and collecting a bunch of American flags at security going back to look for the disc they confiscated (I found it)......I felt like I had re discovered the feeling I had when I was in Borneo in the Peace Corps some 35 years ago when America was loved around the world for who we were and what we gave back.

I was leaving a Starbucks in DC after seeing the Peace Corps group in the parade carrying all those beautiful flags from all the countries where we served, waving and smiling at out new biracial, Dad from a village in Africa president and a woman there looking at me with my backpack stuffed with American flags asked "so how was it?" and barely able to keep it together I said "it feels so good to be proud to be an American again, I've got my country back"

and that's how my inauguration day went