Mass Aspiration

onwardI got sucked into the telly on a grand scale during Obama’s inauguration yesterday.  (I can say ‘telly’ because I watched the BBC’s coverage). The last time this sort of almost-involuntary viewing trance happened for me was on 9/11.  I now realize I was terrified that something horrible would happen.

When I was sixteen, I fell asleep at night in a car my boyfriend was driving, and woke covered in blood, with a broken jaw, my lower teeth piercing completely through the skin well below my shredded lower lip.  He’d dozed off and hit a freeway bridge abutment. I still have scars. For years and years afterward, if I was in a moving vehicle at night, I could not sleep, no matter how tired I was.  I had to stare at the road, pulling the car forward with my eyes and will.

That’s similar to how it was for me yesterday; on one level, I was enjoying it all very much, but on another, I had to watch so that I could will nothing bad to happen.  My heart rate went up and my breath was shortened for the entire time Michelle and Barack Obama were out of the limousine, walking openly on Pennsylvania Avenue in the procession to the White House.  I heaved a huge sigh of relief when they got back in the car.

I am wondering if other Americans my age felt the same; I suspect so.  Maybe I do relate to my entire generation, in this way, at least.  I was twelve when JFK was shot (America’s first mass media disaster event), followed, momentarily it seemed, by Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.  It seems that we, or at least I, almost expect that anything or anyone representing hope, enlightenment and progress for the country will be brought to a swift and ugly end. This is incredibly sad. One of my largest desires is that this is a chapter in our mindset that will be brought to a close during this administration, that we can, indeed move forward, become a better, humanitarian nation.

That said, those very strong feelings coexisted with immense hope and pride as I took it all in, particularly Obama’s speech.

A few details I liked:

  • Malia Obama taking photos with her digital camera.
  • Aretha Franklin’s hat.  She’s The Queen; she deserves a crown.
  • The end of the final benediction. “when brown can stick around, etc.”
  • Watching that helicopter actually, finally take Bush away.
  • Seeing a large organized contingent with professionally printed ARREST BUSH signs in the crowds along Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • The BBC’s captioning errors, particularly “shat own” for “shadow”.
  • Mention of celebrations around the world, particularly in Moneygall, Ireland, which claims Obama’s great-great-great grandfather.  (This video is hilariously silly)