Obama's Inauguration: Lines, Crowds, and a Lotta Awesome Energy

Everyone was jealous. "I* got tickets to Obama's inauguration" instigated looks of outright awe and jaws hanging in disbelief. "And," I boasted, "they're blue." Blue tickets to Obama's inauguration basically translate into a standing room area that doesn't require binoculars to see the action and is close enough that you won't be staring at the Jumbotron with a stiff neck.
My mom, JoJo (Chinese for maternal uncle), my twin, and I set off for the Metro at 8:30 am on January 20. Once we transferred to the blue line at the Metro Center, the energy was electric. A sea of smiling Democrats proudly sported Obama pins and American flags. Phebe and I caught the contagious fever, and we excitedly anticipated standing in front of The Capitol, screaming out of sheer delight for Aretha Franklin and Yo-Yo Ma and peeing our long john and fleece pants when Obama would take stage.
Once we broke through the Metro crowd and out into fresh air, we were greeted by throngs of people speed-walking to The Capitol. We quickly followed the signs pointing to "Blue Gate."
Almost immediately, my family and I were hit by a roadblock of blue-ticket bearers. The line that spilled over the flimsy metal barricades was long, but there was no other way. We were pushed into the standing crowd, where the question of "Is this the Blue line?" was asked from every direction and greeted with the response "We think so. At least we got Blue."
And so, we waited. After 15 minutes, the sea surged forward. Cheers erupted as feet shuffled forward...but only 4 meters. Every 20 minutes or so, there would be a ripple of excitement as the line shifted ever closer to the gate...an inch at a time.
After 2 hours of standing in the DC winter cold and moving forward only 100 meters, the crowd grew impatient. The impending inaugural speech was only 40 minutes away, and at the rate we were moving, we wouldn't get past security by 3:00 pm tomorrow. Rumors filtered backwards - "Security has a problem so they have to check bags and people by hand," "They gave out more tickets than the blue area can hold, so there's no room for more people," and "We're not moving because people are jumping the barricades in front of the entrance gate and cutting in front of us" drew impatient sighs and cursewords from everyone.
Several times, we saw people quitting - they realized that it was useless to stand in the cold in a line that wasn't moving and chose to race to the nearest Jumbotron or bar to catch Obama's anticipated speech. The crowd I was in employed a 6-foot, 2-inch man to report our status. He borrowed a fellow Democrat's binoculars, and scanned the horizon. I couldn't see anything other than rows of fleece hats.
"What do you see?" us midgets shouted to our fellow giant.
"Uh, we're at least an hour from the security gate, and then there's another 500 meters to the Blue entrance gate. And the crowd is thick up there - it's not moving at all."
"Well, do you see people going through the security line?"
"I think so..."
After 20 more minutes of waiting and not moving, a rumor filtered through that the gates were now closed. My family and I decided to call it quits; besides, it was only 20 minutes until Obama was going to be sworn in, and there was no way we were going to be able to charge our way through the thousands ahead of us.
As we fell out of line, we found another standstill line...and the hundreds standing in that line claimed, "This is the right Blue line."
We had just stood in a Blue line for more than 2 hours! Now you're telling me that we were standing in the wrong line the whole time? No Jumbotrons were in sight, and my craving for Chinese dumplings was overcoming my Obama-mania adrenaline. We called it quits, and headed to the Metro to go to a small Chinese cafe.
So, I tried. I had the ticket in my hand (and still do), but all I did while everyone was feasting their eyes on The Capitol, Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma, and the Obamas was freeze, stare at fleece hats, and grumble with the other Blue-ticket holders about how the ticket committee gave out too many for too little space.
There is no next time; the best I can do is watch it on YouTube. Sigh. I feel sorry for myself and for the thousands of others who came all the way to DC from the South and West coasts just to see Obama, but never even caught a glimpse of him. Even the inauguration concert 2 days earlier was better organized.

*well, not really me. My mom got tickets by contacting the Utah senator.

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