Thursday, January 22, 2009

Metroing Into Washington D.C. Tuesday Morning, January 20th, 2009, Barack Obama's Inauguration Day, Orange Line & We Were All Happy, TIGHTLY Packed!

It did not matter on this early Tuesday morning around 8 AM on January 20th, 2009 as we rode the metro car ( Orange line ) into Washington D.C. on Inauguration Day, the swearing-in of our 44th president Barack Obama : everyone was happy. No one was complaining. There was a sense of peace and hope. People squeezed tightly together in each metro car and yet were cordial, smiling and breathing more easily it seemed to me.

It occurred to me stuffed like sardines so tightly together as we were that, as Hugh Grant said in the opening scenes of the movie " Love Actually " at the airport that signs of love were everywhere there ( in the young and the old, the families, the lovers, the friends ) : love actually all around. That's what this was in a sense, too.

I was standing and we were all pretty cramped together as more and more people tried to jam themselves into our car each and every station when we stopped. No one seemed to mind, no one complained. There were no voices of discontent.

People were too happy to be going down to the national mall to celebrate this day when president-elect Barack Obama would be swore into office around noon. I was coming here to work at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008 , Tel : 202-363-4265, ) where I manage the wine department. I was thrilled and excited : and like everyone else my adrenalin was pumping and keeping me warm on this very cold morning indeed.

It was fun for me to be like the fly on the wall, so-to-speak. Of course this fly ( me ) was right there in the center of the car with people all around me. I just wanted to listen and observe and take lots of mental notes to recall later ( now ) when I would want to remember and write them here on this blog to include with the many pictures that I took.

I did not want my pictures to be posed and so I tried discreetly to take them and was pretty successful. Everyone , of course, was taking pictures. This was momentous and it was history : and as I reminded the family in back of me that it was their bit of this history : the bit that they had lived and experienced. One of the two young girls in this family was actually sitting on the floor of the metro car protected by her sister and brother, father and uncle perhaps? I did not ask.

I observed them first as they spoke about this morning and their excitement came out easily in their words. One of the girls spoke of all the layers of clothes that she had bundled-up into so that she would stay warm out there on the mall for all those hours. It was fun to listen to : she was really smiling and animated as she rushed through an itinerary of the layers of clothes she was wearing. English was spoken but also some Arabic I believe between the two men : one would say something in Arabic and the other would respond in English.

They read some of the " historical facts " about past presidents of the United States. They had been given a program as they entered the metro station I think. They expressed a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity as they read off these bits of history of each of our past presidents. At the time I heard them but cannot recollect them now. Sorry.

There was also a young couple either married or boyfriend/girlfriend. I do not know, did not ask. She was white and blond as was wearing a bleached- Clorox-white coat and he was black and wearing a really dark coat with a big hood. I took pictures of them. My favorite is of them sitting with theirs eyes closed, resting. He was leaning his head on the metro pole I think and she had her head leaning on his left shoulder. I hope the picture is good. I will soon see when I download them onto a disc or make copies. I will include them shortly here.

They were talking off-and-on with the two people next to them, also seated. He was white-haired, white and in his fifties? The young lady next to him was white and blond. They both had their Obama buttons on. I liked his especially. He had character in his chiseled features, like a stone of flesh. he folded his arms together as if he were in a circle around a fire at an Indian pow-wow ( a council meeting , serious ) : his Obama button just below his folded arms. I got a picture or two of this, one a bit more of a close-up.

As I said I was trying to be discreet as I took my pictures. I wanted close-up and more personal, more telling, more revealing pictures of these people all coexisting peacefully in this one Orange line metro car rolling quickly over tracks and heading into Washington D.C.

They spoke a lot about logistics and planning and deciding where to get off the metro and head to the mall. Some came already with plans hatched and others were winging it and making decisions there as they studied the metro plan behind the couple catching some last winks before all the activities.

There was also a black couple that got on and the man wore a broad smile pretty much the whole time he was on the car with us. He was in fact beaming from ear to ear. He had a beautiful watch on that caught my attention as I wanted to record the time through it. I finally asked him if I could take a picture of it to capture the time. He, too had been taking many pictures and was happy to oblige.

When I told him what I was doing ( that I managed a wine store ) he showed a lot of interest. I gave him my card and who knows, perhaps he will come someday to visit me here? Time will tell. Anyway, we spoke some and his wife smiled and listened.

People got off ( the white -haired fifty-something man with the younger lady ( his daughter? ) and so spaces were now available. I motioned for the couple to take it and instead the black lady took it with the other, younger black lady that was there with them. I had been watching this younger black lady. She had seen me and we exchanged glances at least twice. She intrigued me because she was facing me with her husband or boyfriend with his back to me. She was smiling and so happy and snuggling up to him, kissing him all the time. She was radiant and it was drawing my attention almost each time I looked : how could it not?

Next to them crushed into the door were another couple or friends, I don't know. He was young and white and animated and talking and happy. I tried to get some pictures of his big smiles and yet I captured the more somber moments in between. It's hard to take pictures like this, so scrunched-up, the car moving and the motion of all of us inside. Some pictures I know came out well and the others I will have to rely more on my words to bring back these moments and make them come alive as they surely were in these precious moments , shared, strangers and family and friends and lovers - all of us packed tightly.

When I got on there was a white American family with two young children, two mothers and one dad? I watched them for awhile and wanted to take a picture of the young girl holding the American flag ( I had been give one, too entering the metro at Dunn Loring ) advertising - only $1 to print, stamp, stuff and mail your letter! ) and yet I hesitated. I got one finally of her mother. They were also taking pictures.

As I looked to my right side I spied two black women sitting down and conversing in the most happy, animated fashion. They were dressed beautifully and had their Obama buttons on, too. I got at least one picture of them from head-to-feet as I wanted to capture all of them in all their happy, wonderful Inauguration morning glory this Tuesday, January 20th, 2009!

I later looked at them some more and saw that the woman sitting on the right had painted in a deep coral pink her nails and I hope that they came out in that original picture or two that I took of them. I did snap some later, close-ups of her. She, like so many this morning were all so beautiful, joyful and radiant. None of this was lost on me as I scanned the horizons/ confines of this rectangular metro car that we were all peacefully occupying now.

People did start to get off now. I saw two young white girls, one a brunette and she also sported an amazing smile and cheer that I warmed to immediately. I quickly snapped a picture or two of her and her friend. She had a really serene expression as she stood, waiting, poised to move on and out the door when the car finally stopped and the doors opened. She was collecting herself, steeling herself, so-to-speak as the day's activities would start to really take their toll on her and everyone else.

I spoke with a number of these people towards the end, giving them my cards and telling them where I worked and what I would be doing with all these pictures that I was taking. No one seemed to mind : rather, they smiled and seemed pleased. They, too realized the significance of this moment to all of us.

I will be adding both pictures and more commentary to this but I want to post this today, now, Thursday, January 2oth, 2009 at 4:08 PM while things are fresh and more immediate in my thoughts.

It was a special ride this one. I will not forget it anytime soon. Cheers, TONY

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