Saturday, January 17, 2009
Inauguration Blog: The Arrival!
This is the beginning of short blogs (as I get time!) during an obviously frenzied weekend! Yes, I’m here in Washington (well, suburban Maryland) for the Presidential Inauguration! It was a relatively snap decision: I got a ticket reservation notice a week ago last Wednesday, made the decision and – here I am! Managed the drive in two days – arrived last night (albeit during DC rush hour on the Beltway – yeesh!)
That said, I’m doing this on the barest of shoestrings possible, keeping in note my unemployed status! No flying – I drove (thank God for the cheaper gasoline prices!) Plus I stayed with some good friends: Shelly in Atlanta, and Janet & Cookie while I’m up here in DC! Otherwise, there’s no way I could’ve done the motels, much less attempting car sleeping due to the sub-freezing temps!
And I do mean sub-freezing – like in the teens and low twenties! I thought Texas was bad! It does make a difference that I get a break from the cold staying with my friends as they use heat, plus the car heater on the drive up! It’s not bothering me the way it does when cold in Houston and it seems (to me) that the entire world is in a deep freeze! Plus the cold is much drier here, so it doesn’t knife through me the way the cold will in Texas oftentimes.
While here, I’ve been trying to get my schedule coordinated as more of the events have now been put up on websites, etc. There’s a lot of things to wade through, and most of them have three-figure or even four-figure (eek!) door fees! With America being in the throes of Bush’s “Economic Recovery” (or ‘Mental Recession’ or ‘Depression ‘ or whatever folks want to call it), there’s no way a tranny like me, with nothing but temp jobs, is affording that!
Nevertheless, there’s at least a couple small ticket items, and even the National Council for AIDS throwing a reception that’s free or GLAAD’s free event at a local bar here, so being resourceful and searching allows you to find some opportunities away from the chi chi, high visibility spots.
Ultimately, being here for this Inauguration is history! It sounds clichéd, but it’s true this time. America elected it’s first African-American as President, we’re also in the most difficult times since the Great Depression.
Additionally – out trans people were officially invited to the Inaugural Event! That’s a first at any Democratic Inauguration, though Kathryn McGuire attended the 1989 Inauguration of President George H. W. Bush – and even went to one of the Inaugural Balls! Of course this was immediately after she’d begun her transition, and she got the invitation under the presumption she was still her male (and very conservative) old self!
It’s also the largest inauguration ever, and is drawing folks from around the nation and the world! Even with the frigid temperatures, people are braving the elements to be there and make future memories to be retold for many years to come. If nothing else, Obama has had at least one small part in unblocking a bit of the economic freeze and get folks out, traveling, spending a little at least. He’s a one man industry!
Most of today has been getting settled in, computer set up and watching CNN News of the Presidential Whistlestop. It’s been amazing watching the crowds out in this frigid weather, standing and waiting for hours for a glimpse of the new President. One can see it being obviously special for the African American community – but there were a number of non-black folks of all race standing out amongst them as well, waiting for that glimpse in that same deep freeze! Everyone wants to watch even a piece of this history as the Obama family and the Biden family traveled by train from Pennsylvania and arrived in Washington this evening!
The one thing that strikes me is how different this election and Inauguration are. The feeling is electric. There is so much about this anticipation and the admiration for the incoming President that reminds me and my friends Janet & Cookie of America’s Camelot – the John F. Kennedy presidency.
Even beyond the crowd response and the clamor, just the look of the family coming in: very young and attractive, an athletic husband and a tastefully stylish wife with young kids coming into the White House. It really struck me watching a bit of the news coverage where the Obamas were chatting casually about things like Ms. Obama looking forward to the inauguration speech, and an easy, almost high-school type of good-natured teasing of each other and a few laughs. Even a lot of the messaging from both Barack and Michelle are reflective of (if not copycatting) the Kennedy couple.
We’re here this week to witness one thing: a chance to truly usher in an exciting change in America at the very least. While the jury is out for now, we may also be watching the beginning of one of the greatest presidencies in our nation’s history. We individuals who walked the blocks, knocked the doors, were delegates, contributors, phone bankers, hosts or hostesses for out-of-state campaign volunteers or simply voters for what may have been the first time ever, we’re not individually historic. But our participation in this process, and for those of us fortunate ones watching the ceremony in person, we get to say we were a small piece of this historic moment.
We can point to helping create change! Yes we did!
“When we dream alone it is only a dream, but when many dream together it is the beginning of a new reality.” — Austrian architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser