What is it about this time of year that awakens my senses and heightens my awareness at all levels? I have so much to say that it is hard to know where to start—I guess that’s a cliché for a reason. I keep thinking about Obama’s impending inauguration, which is alternately thrilling me and scaring me into a rushed sense of “let’s-just-get-this-overwith-so-it-can-really-be-real-and-can’t-be-somehow-taken-away” urgency. I want to savor this precious point in history, which waits on the brink of…greatness? Hopefully. The unknown—certainly. A new day, new beginning.
This is one of those times when I miss living in DC. Many times that city crosses my mind, dances in and out of my consciousness when I hear a certain song or clutch a cold beer. At work when I still catch myself looking around for former co-workers to tell them a funny story. But this—oh this excitement is something that can’t be matched anywhere else but right there. Right there in the crowded and small and cold downtown with its white marble etched with names of those long ago gone.
Etched with memories for me, on every block.
I remember when President Reagan died, and his funeral processional was to pass through downtown DC on its way to the Capitol to lie in state for a few days before burial. Work let us go early that day, in a nod to the historic nature of the event, which was extremely out of character for my boss. But she relented and we jumped on the metro and ran to sidewalks to bear witness to history.
I stood with my friend beside a tree, among a huge crowd but somehow I was in the front. I waved at Nancy Reagan who stared forlornly out the car window before waving back at me. I stared at the casket of the man who was President when I was born.
It slowly passed by and we watched it until it turned the corner. We patted ourselves on the back for participating, and then I’m sure, went off in search of beer.
I felt a sort of energy in the air that day, and during the many days when I had the chance to watch history unfold before my eyes before casually walking back home to heat up a frozen pizza.
But this is the time to be in DC, and I am not. I have a twinge of regret about this, but it is okay. I will watch on TV with the rest of the nation as we place a black man in our nation’s highest office and I'm not sure I will be able to hold back the tears. I will think about the symbolism of that moment, but also about the reality beyond the racial barriers being broken in front of my eyes. I will think about the reality of a nation awakening to change and advancing toward a new kind of future. I will think about how, on a warm day in November, the nation overwhelming responded YES to a promise of hope.
And I will think to myself, maybe for just a minute...what a wonderful world.