Meg Riley's Inauguration Diary: The Day After
It’s 6:30. Amy got up and crept out of the apartment at 5:15 to catch her morning plane. Jie’s still asleep, so I’m quietly eating a bowl of homemade granola with a banana, and attempting to capture in words the end of our inauguration experience.
The Peace Ball last night was a great event for old lefties to attend, featuring folks like Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, Holly Near, Alice Walker, Amy Goodman, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Dick Gregory.
We got dressed up in Ball Clothes, or as close to Ball Clothes as the weather would allow. My friend Amy was worried about wearing pants, but I kept saying, “This is a HIPPIE ball. LOTS of women will wear pants!” I wore leggings underneath my dress, which was thin fabric. We both wore sensible shoes, of course, because that’s the kind of girls we are!
We went out front and hailed a cab. When I told the driver where we were going, he groaned. I hadn’t thought about the fact that, smack between where we were starting and where we were ending, The Man of the Hour and a zillion other people were at “The Neighborhood Ball” at the convention center. The driver began searching for a route. Taxis, buses, and stretch limos longer than buses jammed streets and intersections. We did U turns, K turns, and crept through alleys and parking lots. Finally, we paid him 12 bucks, got out of the line of limos and taxis now jammed into a parking lot with no exit, and began to walk…We had left 13th and Massachusetts, we were now at 10th and Massachusetts, 3 blocks closer to destination. Except that even pedestrians were barricaded away, with police officers everywhere! We had to make pedi-U-turns back to 11th and Massachusetts, and ended up walking downtown to the Metro and hopping on it to Union Station.
But we made it. The ball was a blast. Contrary to our expectations, and to usual practice, there was great and free food. Free drinks. And a great line-up. I looked for Bill and Maria Sinkford, but didn’t see them, or the ten or so other people I knew were there, but saw others I hadn’t expected. Amy ran into a family from Minnesota she knew, including two adolescents she had delivered as babies (she is a nurse-midwife).
It was Dick Gregory that I was the most excited about. When I was a kid and Dick Gregory came to town, my parents had a straw hat with his autograph on the band that I thought was really cool. Others might idolize Martin Luther King, but I used to read and reread a book of Gregory’s, marveling at how you could use humor to say things that you would otherwise be killed for saying. He told the truth in a way that knocked me over, in a world where you just didn’t see people doing that! How fabulous to see these icons of liberalism and music, gathered in one place with all of us!
We left the ball early because we were exhausted and Amy still had to pack before her early departure. Taking the Metro, we came up on K Street, and found police at every intersection. About five people stood at a corner, and told us that the helicopters had just scanned the area and they thought the Presidential motorcade was coming. Several minutes later, we were treated to our own private parade…a dozen or so police motorcycles were followed by a limo with the Presidential seal. Who knew we’d be treated to a sight of the Obamas like this? We felt as if we’d had a crowning glory to an amazing day. We stumbled home in a happy stupor, savoring this last gift of grace.