Alumnus Blog: Sharing the Inaugural Experience from D.C.
The Best Laid Plans...
by Alex Will '08
I try not to make it a habit to start my blogs with a disclaimer, but I feel as though this entry deserves one. If you were hoping to read an entry waxing on poetically regarding the inauguration, well you came a day too early. That entry will come after I have had enough time to process what has taken place, and what I have experienced. Today's entry involves Alex getting up way too early, walking way too much and hurting in way too many places.
Now I must begin by admitting, I really didn't plan my excursion very well. I had just assumed that I would be at a significant advantage because I would be zipping my way around the city with my vast knowledge of my surroundings. Well, it didn't exactly happen that way. I left my house, on the northeast side of D.C., at about 8:00 a.m. I assumed this would be enough time to take the Metro about seven stops and walk to the National Mall. As of about 8:30, my plan was flawless. I only had to wait a few minutes for the Metrobus and when I got to the metro station, a train was waiting for me! The next stop went as smoothly as when I got on; the train waited a minute or so and my unusually uncrowded train continued its ride. Obviously this story was too good to be true, because before we got to the next stop, the train decided it was going to stop moving. Not a big deal, that happens now and then. Well 5 minutes became
10, and 10 became 20 and before I knew it, I was on stuck on the Metro for an hour! Two stops from where I started! Now this certainly wasn't in the plan. At about 9:30, the train began to move forward. When we got to the next stop, we were all informed that this train was returning from where it came from, everyone would have to get off, and that no other train was coming from this direction. Great. So to recap, in an hour and a half, I'm two stops from my house and very far from the National Mall.
The next part of my journey resembled the midway point of a bad monster movie. You know what I'm talking about; thousands of people walking down the streets, towards no obvious goal. If you'll keep that image in your head, now add large metal gates blocking every street you thought you might have some success walking down. As frustrating and painful as this was, no one seemed to care. You could tell that everyone was so determined to get to the Mall, they just kept pushing ahead.
At about 11:30, I finally made it to the Mall. Well, not exactly the Mall, because the Mall runs from the United States Capitol to the Washington Monument, and I was about a football field’s length behind the monument. Nonetheless, I was still surrounded by thousands of people. Most were standing, but some were climbing up trees — everyone trying to snag a view of the Jumbotron featuring the likeness of our 44th president-to-be. No matter how far you had walked, the idea that we were about to witness history seemed to reinvigorate everyone. That was all well and fine, until the party ended, and we all realized we needed to get back to where we came from.
The scene leaving the Mall, was similar to the one entering the Mall: Hundreds of thousands of people squeezing towards tiny, police-restricted holes. While it was just as frustrating as it was the first time, I certainly wasn't feeling the fatigue I felt before. The journey home was just as long on the way back, and just as frustrating, but this time it seemed a little different. I didn't care that I had to walk so far, and wait so long. I don't think anyone did.