Live. . .
From D.C. . .
It's Inauguration Week!
It the eight years we've lived down here, I've never seen the city so excited. Actually, I've rarely seen the city excited at all; my chief complaint is that D.C. lacks electricity in the air. Well, today I stand corrected.
Greg's parents are visiting, which means that we have two captive babysitters. Basking in the glow of their adoring attention, Baby C barely managed to wave and blow me a kiss as I said goodbye to her. Then, Greg and I headed OUT to the National Mall to see President Elect Obama and the We are One Inauguration Concert. (And to see U2, who happened to be playing.)
Since most of the roads downtown and bridges across the Potomac were closed, we hopped on the Metro. You know you don't get out enough when a ride on public transit excites you. "Oooh, Greg, look! All the station lights are different! When did they change those?" Greg wasn't sure. "Oooh, look, Greg - when did they change the 'No Food' signs?" Greg didn't know, but I think he was relieved when I stopped loudly pointing out the Metro's capital improvements and turned my attention to the exuberant crowd.
Most folks were headed downtown to the concert, and everyone was laughing and talking with their fellow riders. Everyone. That people were talking at all was unusual (Metro transforms ordinary people into silent, dour and sallow passengers), and that they were chatting across racial lines even more so. We traded tips on where to get off with the family next to us and poured out of the station into a city eerily empty of traffic but strumming with foot traffic. (Interestingly, most people stuck to the sidewalks even though the roads were closed.)
The Mall was packed, but people were cool. No pushing and shoving. Screens were placed down the length of the Mall down to the Capitol building. We arrived too late to get through the security checkpoints in front of the stage at the Lincoln Memorial, so we joined the crowd in front of the Washington Memorial and gazed up at the (surprisingly small) jumbotron screen.
The Boss kicked us off, sounding good and scruffy. Movie stars read inspiring quotes between the sets. Someone let Josh Grobin sing. I'm embarrassed to say that Garth Brooks was one of the best performers and got everyone a little bit louder now with his rendition of Shout and American Pie. Stevie Wonder, Usher, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Miss Mary J. Blige—all sounded great.
There was a sweet little old lady in front of us who had a pink scarf tied over her ears and under her chin. When Shakira came on stage, the little old lady gleefully cried out, "Oh, I love Shakira!"
For me, a diehard U2 fan, the highlight was Edge, Bono and the boys singing my favorite song, which commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pride (in the Name of Love). Judging from the fact that I was the only person in the vicinity singing and raising my fist in support of the good fight, there were not a lot of U2 fans around me. Or perhaps they just get out more than me. Probably that. I’m pretty sure Bono and I shared some significant eye contact through the jumbotron.
All in all, it was almost like a two-hour sing-along on the Mall. People were unabashedly emotional, earnest, and polite. When Barack Obama took the stage, the crowd stilled. Then erupted. We are ready.