dc - day 3 - monday, mlk day
Stopped at Columbia Heights Coffee for americanos and a banana-nut muffin. It was about 11:15 pm and we were just heading out. Our goal was to get to the Rayburn Building – one of a few buildings near the Capitol housing Congressional office – to go to our Rep’s (Earl Blumenauer) open house. We’d shake hands w/ other Oregonians and talk about how lucky we were to be here. Maybe we’d meet Earl? There would be light refreshment. It would be a charming addition to our trip narrative and a lovely way to regionalize this whole inauguration. Provided it happened that is.
We took the metro to the capitol south stop on the blue line and took the escalator up. Emerged into a teeming throng of people. Wrapping serpentine around multiple buildings up and down multiple streets. Hearts sinking we found our building and got in line. Most of these people – we learned – were inaugural ticket holders in line to procure their tickets from their rep’s. They weren’t going anywhere. They’d been there for hours and were prepared to wait for several more. Zero chance of us – 70 minutes remaining – making Earl’s open house. We approached a side door at the building, just in case, and were immediately asked by security what our business was. They didn’t quite care about our open house and firmly instructed us that all individuals entering the building had to go through security. It was not going to happen.
We crossed the street and headed for the Capitol. Suddenly found ourselves w/ a minor surplus of time. We stood on the steps, we took multiple pics, we gawked and pointed. We were not alone. The overall feeling was something approaching a giddy chaos. People everywhere. All nationalities, colors, creeds, stations. We crossed another street to the Supreme court and then back around the other side of the Capitol, to gaze on where Barack will stand tomorrow, where he’ll look out. It was manic, crazed energy . Streams of people elbowing, jostling, squirming, pushing to get onto the platform that was the closest accessible point to where Barack would stand.
We returned to the Metro and found an insane throng of people coming up and going down. People were arriving by the hundreds to – presumably – pick up their inaug tix. As the escalator descended we saw the scope and depth of people, waiting to rise.
We had signed up to volunteer at RFK stadium so we headed out there. Exiting that Metro stop found even more vendors. Again, all possible products w/ Barack’s likeness – bobbleheads, paintings, banners, shot-glasses, hot sauces, key-chains, neckties, headbands, mittens. At the stadium we were all sectioned off into groups of 80 or so. We sat in the seats and listened to a brief instruction by a volunteer. We were to enter the heated tents and follow the lines. We were to grab a plastic bag and hold it open as we moved down a series of tables as other volunteers put items – donated by target – into the bag. Once full we put the bag on another table so another set of volunteers could seal the bag. Then we went to the back of the line and did it again, a total of 10 times. The bags were going into packages to soldiers overseas. Afterwards everyone sat in seats and wrote letters to servicemen and women. I wrote four letters. M wrote seven.
We went back to U street, hoping to attend the afternoon happy hour session at Twins Jazz but it was not to be. All fine as we went instead to crème for dinner. Tremendous.
We plan to turn in early tonight, wake early tomorrow. It is insane here and tomorrow promises to be more so. We are about 3 miles from the mall and should the metro be untenable we are prepared to walk…