January 20, 2009: I know I cursed Courvoisier out in my mind fifty-eleven times! I was trying to smile at her, but in my mind I was calling her everything but a chile of God. I mean if she hadn’t come down from Philly I would have been at home watching the day’s events like I planned under a blanket. Instead I was standing in a line with hundreds of people. Crushed up against a gate. Separated from half the folks I came with. Cold. And tired of waiting to move forward.
Even now, a week later I can’t believe I was part of the nearly two million folks who made it down there that day. Before when asked if I was going down there, my response was “I ain’t crazy!” But there I was part of the number. When we knew we’d need transportation: we got our transit fare early. When we knew it was going to be cold: we put on our layers. When we knew we would get hungry: we packed sandwiches. But even with all this preparation I don’t think we were truly ready to be a part of something…a movement.
January 20, 2009: I know I cursed Rum Punch out in my mind fifty-eleven times! I was trying to smile at her, but in my mind I was calling her everything but a chile of God. I mean they had told us that we couldn’t get to the mall. So basically it was a wrap. We weren’t crossing the gate. Half our group had made it through and where they were now, we didn’t know. It was a hopeless situation. Courvoisier thinking her toes are going to be amputated and Rum Punch wants us to walk to where? Go around what? I don’t think so!
And even now, a week later I can’t believe that I was part of the nearly two million folks who made it down there who were counted as witnesses to history. “I ain’t crazy!” was what I said, yet I was the one who was running down the street when I could finally see the monument. The jumbo screens. And the millions of people watching and waiting for a new era to be ushered in. It was amazing ya’ll! To see millions of people for miles, cheering together, breathing in unison, hoping for a more perfect union. I’d never experienced that before. It was worth the cold, confusion and desperation!
January 20, 2009: I know I cursed Mayor Fenty and his band of cops about fifty-eleven times! Had they not thought about how two million people who were ready to leave were going to do so? Congestion. Some people had knocked down a barrier fence so that we could get out of there. A family with a wheelchair bound woman needed help lifting her over the bottom of the gate. Parents yelled to watch out for their child in the stroller. After a historic moment centuries in the making folks forgot how to be patient, helpful or even civil. But I understood it. It didn’t make sense. A cop lost his cool as the crowd flowed towards him because a cop car needed to pass through the sea of people. We were part of a slow moving current that flowed up 18th street, all the side streets were blocked. The entrances to all the open metro stations teemed with people. We wondered how the platforms below ground looked. Earlier we heard someone was hit by a train.
The only thing we could do was to walk it out. Over private property. Security guards yelled for people to get off the grass-did they not understand no order is possible in chaos? Save your breath! The three of us hopped over cement barriers. Trampled bushes. At some point no space was off bounds. All we could do was wonder why there was no clear exit strategy. After walking for an hour and a half the crowd started to thin out and we finally able to catch a cab uptown back to our car. It was shocking to go from being unable to move to freely maneuvering the city. Downtown had been shut down but in uptown, business continued as usual, it was almost unaffected by the change we had just witnessed. The three of us ended up going to a restaurant in Maryland where others laughed, dined and watched the inaugural parade on television. We ate, excited yet exhausted.
January 20, 2009: I know I that thanked Courvoisier and Rum Punch fifty-eleven times in my mind for making me go. I was not ready for the day. The cold, the people, the foolishness but it was well worth the experience. And now I can say: Yes I was there. Are you ready to hear my story? To be able to do that, is priceless!
See You In Seven
SO LONG, FAREWELL...
The View From Here will conclude on Friday, October 1, our third year anniversary. We would like to spend this month thanking all of our readers, followers, haters, visitors, family, friends, and fans for your continued support, encouragement, and comments over these past few years. Thanks y'all!
-The Five Spot