This will be my last blog post and fathoming the end of this experience is difficult.
As of Sunday, I did not have a ticket to the Inauguration; however, I refused to allow that to prevent me from attending the festivities. Caitlin and I had decided that we were going to leave early and find us a spot on the parade route. I mean, why not be there and attempt to catch a glimpse of the president?
While fixing hot chocolate, I retreated to my room in the attempt to start cleaning. A few seconds later, Lindsay entered the apartment and informed me that the teachers had two tickets left. My mind was slow at comprehending the information. Eventually I realized that Caitlin and I just might have a ticket after all! I fumbled with my phone as I scrolled through my contacts. Upon finding Dr. Payne’s number, I called her. Thankfully, we beat other students to claiming the tickets. My heart raced, and excitement floated through me. Here I was a girl from Mingo County, who never thought she was going to amount to much, achieving more than I could have ever imagined. Then BAM! tickets practically fell from the air into my hands. This truly was the icing on the cake for me.
Over dinner at Red Lobster, the group, which consisted of Sean, Cole, Kathryn, Lindsay, Caitlin, and me, discussed the plans for the Inauguration. We decided on leaving at 4:30, and attempting to catch the metro at five. It was going to be an early morning and a long day, but I couldn’t wait.
When my alarm screamed at me at 3:45 this morning, I was tempted to throw my phone across the room. Slowly my brain recalled the reason I was waking up so early, and I scurried around to make sure I was ready on time. Three shirts, two jackets, tights, sleep pants, and jeans later, I finally emerged from the bathroom ready to tackle the cold and to experience the Inauguration. To be honest, the amount of layers forced me to waddle like a penguin, but the warmth I hoped it would provide made it worthwhile.
After running behind and making a pit stop at Dunkin Doughnuts, we finally boarded the metro. My biggest fear during this whole trip gnawed at me. What if I have to pee really badly? In all honesty, who wouldn’t be concerned with having to use the restroom? Caitlin and I excited the metro, yellow tickets in hand, and proceeded to find the line for the yellow section. The back of the ticket caused me to believe that we’d be miles away from the capital, but surprisingly we were closer than anticipated. After standing in line for two hours, we finally made it to the tent that housed the metal detectors. I always become anxious when I approach security checkpoints. Although I knew I didn’t have any band items on me, fear hovered over me as I walked through the metal detector. It seems that I have the notion that some prohibited item is going to magically appear in my possession. None of the sort occurred, and I finally made it to the standing area for yellow ticket holders.
Once the program started, I felt pride for my country emit from me. I am an American Citizen, a free citizen. President Obama’s speech was empowering. While he was speaking, I didn’t care that my feet were sore and numb from the cold. It didn’t matter that I was uncomfortable, nothing mattered except his words. He spoke of equality for all, and while we have strived toward this goal, we have not granted it for every citizen. I truly hope his words rang true when he spoke so passionately about our country. He mentioned the changes we need to make and the bright future we have ahead. America is strong, and I felt its strength in my core as I witnessed this historical moment.
Now that my suitcase is almost completely packed and it is nearing time to leave, I can’t help but feel sad. I came to D.C. slightly confident and unsure, and I leave here with more guidance and confidence. My faith in our Country is strengthened, even though we do have our issues. My hope for equality for all has grown. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity or a more empowering experience. My heart is full of thanks for all who made this possible for me. I can’t wait to see what else life has to offer to me.