So far… 2013 is off to a stellar start.
Despite the frigid temperature, I’m overcome with a warm feeling from the week’s events.
Coming off the high of ringing in the New Year at the Barclays Center, where I scored a floor seat near the stage just hours before Coldplay and Jay-Z took to it, it never occurred to me that anything could top that.
Then this week happened.
In addition to catching up with two of my best friends, whom I haven’t seen in a long time, my newfound sense of whimsy took me to Washington, D.C. to witness the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.
With no real plan except to brave the crowds in the National Mall at the crack of dawn, I was once again blessed by a higher power — and a cousin who was fortuitously in town — with tickets to a special standing area. Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of strangers, we found a comradery and an energy that made standing outside for hours on a blustery Winter morning bearable. We cheered, screamed and booed in unison when notable personalities appeared on the large monitors. We fell into a revered and almost church-like hush when Medgar Evers widow, Myrlie, hit the podium. We beamed with pride when the first family arrived to take their seats… and ultimately their place in America’s history.
What often escapes the glare of the media is the human stories surrounding an event as large as the presidential inauguration. Days later, the only story they’ve grasped from that moment in time is that of a singer who chose not to risk singing in a cold, dry environment two weeks before she’s to hit a much larger audience for one of the biggest sporting events of the year, in which she’s being paid handsomely. Truth be told, many of us had already made our way toward the Metro station after the president spoke, and had completely missed the performance in question. My appreciation for Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir could never override my love and need for food and warm spaces.
But the real story was what was happening when the president spoke. Looking at the faces amongst the crowd and seeing the thrill in people’s eyes. Witnessing the veterans let out one of those “hoo-ahh” cries when he honored them. Seeing my friend’s young mentee — an LGBT advocate destined to change the world — beam with pride when he acknowledged her community. Sure, there were people who didn’t agree with everything that was happening politically, but even they got a chance to be heard that day. It was truly something to behold, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
For many, the historic day was four years ago, but much like the president, for me, it was a new day and a second chance to get it right. I’d completely missed the first inauguration, having been at work and preparing to go on vacation later that week with my then-boyfriend. The next day, the one person whom I was eager to discuss it with had passed away; born and raised in segregated south, my adoptive mother was never more excited than when Obama was elected POTUS. Upon seeing her number on my ringing phone, I excitedly answered “I was wondering when you’d call!” only to hear my sobbing brother on the other end of the line. The next few days… months… years… were a blur, but the regret of never having that moment with her was never clearer. So this year, I got to have that moment for her.
Even with the bittersweet taste of my latest adventure, the unimaginable joy of living in that moment — whether in tribute or transition — leaves me hungry for whatever comes next.
And so, I’ll continue following my heart and my gut to these unknown places. If the track record thus far is any indication, it looks like I’m in for an amazing trip.