Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where were you when....

Isn't that the question that kids ask of their parents? Where were you when something important and memorable happened? Were you watching when ____________ (fill in the blank)? For me, it was asking my Mom about the Kennedy assassinations, Nixon's resignation, Woodstock, etc. And as a teenager, I used to complain that "nothing big or exciting" ever happened during my lifetime, but I sure wished it would.

Well, I can officially say that I've had my share of big and exciting events to witness now. One of the biggest occurred on 9/11/01 while Mr. Literal was still in NICU, and another of the biggest occurred today. So when my boys grow older, and ask me about the inauguration of Barack Obama (which they'll barely remember, if at all), what can I tell them? What will my story sound like? Something like this....
We had school that day, so after dropping you guys off, I drove to my own school and settled in to watch the inauguration coverage online. My plan was to watch it with all of my classes, using my LCD projector to show the images on my BIG white classroom wall. What I didn't factor in was that every breathing soul in the free world (and some in the UNfree world) was also trying to watch the coverage online, all at the same time. Which meant that the video feed was horrible, it kept freezing up and was practically unwatchable.

I suffered through it for 2 hours, and by 11 am was frantically planning my escape.......where could I go during my lunch break that I could watch the coverage on an actual TV? The nearest place that I knew for sure had a TV was a NY-style pizza joint down the street from the school. Orlando's, to be exact. So at 11:15 am, I walked into Orlando's and ordered a slice of pepperoni and a Diet Coke. An hour and 2 Diet Coke refills later, I watched Barack Hussein Obama take the oath of office. The Chief Justice screwed it up, but nothing could take away the importance of what was occurring. I was proud to be an American, proud to have voted for this man, and very hopeful for the future and what the Obama era could bring to our country.
There was NO WAY I was going to miss seeing this today. If I'd gotten any more desperate, I was ready to knock on doors of complete strangers' homes and say "hey, do you have a TV by any chance?" But thank goodness for Orlando's. It was surreal in a way, though........by noon there were about 10 of us in there watching. A few others sitting in the back of the restaurant, eating their pizza but NOT watching, but the rest of us clustered around the TV mounted high on the wall, eyes fixed on the screen. Wishing the people ordering their slices would talk just a bit softer, or turn the TV up louder, neither of which happened. But when THE moment came, everything else fell away and we watched as history was made........me and 10 strangers, eating pizza in a small restaurant on a cold, blustery day. After the oath, I threw away my trash and went out to my van to listen to the inaugural address. Figured I could stand not to see it, but to hear it in peace and really focus on the words.

I know that people driving by my van must have thought I was a wacko or something......I turned the van on, heat on full blast, and leaned my seat back as far as it would go. Then I just closed my eyes and let him talk to me. I just wanted to block everything else out, and immerse myself in the moment, knowing this is once in a lifetime. And if I was proud of him, and of us, before.....after this speech, I'm doubly proud. Proud to be someone who voted for him, and proud to be someone who's (almost) of his same generation. We're not baby boomers, we don't have grown children......our kids are in elementary school. He's only 10 years older than I, and Michelle only 8, and that's just cool. His speech was strong, tough, thoughtful, intelligent and respectful, just as it should have been. We've lived without so much of that, for so long, we almost forgot what it was like to have it.

When the speech ended, I sat up, put the van into drive and went back to school for my last class. So yes, I saw it, I heard it, I was a part of it in my own admittedly strange way. It's definitely a story to share with my kids someday. Mom always tells me how much she loved JFK, how inspiring and motivational he was, and that she hoped I'd have the chance someday to experience that feeling if the right leader comes along. Well, he's here, and I'm so glad. Now it's my turn to hope......that we don't have to wait 40+ years for someone else like him to come along.


Lyndsey said...

((((hugs)))) Very cool, indeed.

Amy said...

Great post! I watched the whole thing from the comfort of my couch (when there wasn't a hungry baby or screaming 2 year old running around). This is the best thing to happen for our country in a long time... I truly believe that.