I wake up in my roommate’s bed. What am I doing here? Oh wait, I’m going to the Presidential Inauguration today with her and her mom. That means I need to get up. Ugh, just 5 more minutes.
I’m going to be late for the bus! This brings back some high school memories. I put on a tank top, a thermal long-sleeved shirt, an ugly Christmas sweater (those things are so warm), a sweatshirt, my winter coat, leggings, jeans, and two pairs of socks. Judging from my lack of movement, I might have a difficult time walking around in D.C. today. But I get just a TEENSY bit cranky when I’m cold, so I decide to just deal with the mobility problem.
We don’t know anyone on this bus, and I don’t want to. Everyone is so excited and peppy and loud and everything I want to avoid at 6AM. We then realize that we have no maps, no directions, and basically no clue what to do once we reach D.C. My roommate, Alexa, and I set up a game plan using her phone (thanks Steve Jobs), and decide that walking the three miles from the bus depot to the Mall is no big deal.
I realize I should’ve gotten a gym membership about five years ago. These are the longest three miles of my life, and I just want to sit down. But I keep moving because if I don’t, I’ll get trampled (cue my PTSD from Mufasa & the antelope stampede). However, as I’m stumbling along, I realize that Washington D.C. is a beautiful city and I’m incredibly lucky to be here. It’s a gorgeous day (albeit cold), but I’m seeing so much beauty around me. This is only the second time I’ve been to Washington D.C., and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite places.
I’ve finally made it to the Mall. I’m sweaty, my feet hurt, and I pulled a muscle, but as I’m standing in the grass facing the Capitol, I realize again how lucky I am to be here. This event will be read about by future generations, and I can tell my kids and grandkids that I was actually there. I can see the Capitol draped in finery, and while I’m too far away to see the actual people, I see specks moving and getting ready for the ceremony to begin. The energy around me is electric. Everyone is waving their American flags and cheering in excitement. I’m being pushed and shoved in all different directions, but I’ve never been more excited in my life!
I’ve just seen the Obamas walk to their seats, and now the president makes his entrance. The crowd erupts into cheers and applause, and I’m amazed that I’m actually seeing this. I’ve never imagined anything like this, and I’m just trying to soak it all in. Everyone around me looks so happy (despite the cold), and there’s a huge sense of camaraderie among the crowd as we all settle in to listen as this historic event begins.
The inauguration is over. I’ve just witnessed history. I saw our 44th president sworn in to serve his last term. I listened to countless people address our nation and express their hopes and dreams for the next four years. The President gave an amazing speech that silenced and awed the thousands in attendance. And (as many people around me said) I got a free Beyonce concert. As soon as the ceremony is over, there’s a mad rush to leave the Mall. However, the Secret Service had placed blockades every so often in order to control the crowds. This resulted in a three hour, four mile walk back to the bus depot. I seriously contemplated asking one of the several soldiers stationed at every block for a ride, but I thought that would be a bit inappropriate.
I’ve been standing for seven hours and can no longer move. I start rethinking my fitness level, but accept the fact that my will to exercise will always be nonexistent. We’ve finally made it back to the bus, and I collapse into my seat. I immediately fall asleep, only to wake up an hour later realizing that we’re on our way back to D.C. because we left someone behind. Now that I’m awake, I get to listen to the condescending woman behind me talk about where she’ll stay in Milan: a villa or bed-and-breakfast. She’s got a bad case of ‘first-world problems’. I wish we could’ve left her behind.
I’m back at school and finally in my bed. The bus ride was four hours and my roommate and I still had the two hour ride back to school. I’m dreading going to school and work tomorrow, knowing I’ll want nothing more than to stay in bed for the rest of my life. But even though the physical toll was heavy, I wouldn’t have traded my experience today for the world.