January 21, 2009
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
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
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.
Rev. Meg A. Riley
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Last updated on Thursday, June 3, 2010.
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Meg Riley (right) and her friend, Amy, in front of the Capitol prior to the inauguration of Barack Obama.
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