Friday, January 23, 2009

Inauguration Celebration

What a history-making week! Barack Obama became the first African-American president of the United States. I went, I shivered and I witnessed. My hubby and I trekked down to DC to be a part of it. We flew to JFK and then drove a rental car the four-hours plus to Washington.

It was amazing, awe-inspiring and every other superlative you no doubt heard and read about. But one thing I was struck by was the vibin’ energy of the crowd. Sure it was freezing cold, and nope, we didn’t have a spot anywhere near the Capitol (“A shout out to the makers of jumbotron!”). But like Obama said once, this isn’t entirely about him, it’s about all of us. And nowhere did this statement ring more true than out there among the masses. [Note: Sorry about the poor quality pics--having computer issues.]

Despite the large crowds, folks were calm, cooperative and patient. Things were so slow-moving at some points that a full stride felt like the best thing since sliced bread. After almost an hour of baby paces, walking normally was like, “Aaaah.” During the slow procession out of the mall after the free concert, people broke out in song, smiled at each other, struck up conversations with strangers, and did I mention they broke out in song?? Some songs overheard: “America the Beautiful,” “Dancing in the Streets,” “My Country Tis of Thee.” (The crowd danced to "Shout" during Garth Brooks' rockin' performance at the concert. Yes--Garth turned it OUT!)
But one thing I realized about us a culture—we’re a bunch of jokers. Talk about immature! During the HBO-televised “We Are One” concert at the Lincoln Memorial, people busted out laughing during what was supposed to be serious ceremonial moments. This is partly because of random misfires in the show’s production. Some examples: As an actor made mention of Lincoln, a tight shot of the president’s stony face beamed across the jumbotron. It just looked mad ominous and shadowy. I reacted as quickly as everyone else with a chuckle. Then when Tom Hanks took to the stage, the band accompanied his message in a weird crescendo of drama-filled notes. Everyone burst out laughing again, turning to look at each other with WTF? expressions. And that’s not even getting into the funny commentary different people shouted at random times.

That’s something you don’t find everywhere. I think of the times my jokes fell flat when I lived in London. The jokes usually bombed if they were too heavily American in their pop culture references.

Humor is about more than tickling funny bones. Punch lines—when delivered well—are easy to find. But to unanimously pick up on something not meant to be comedic is something cultural. It’s like sharing a sense of humor with your bff.

Humor has always been an important part of my family life. It’s the way we ease tension, build bonds and entertain each other. So it’s so nice to know that on that cold day on the mall as we joined in raised hope to celebrate President Obama and a new era, I shared a few laughs with my extended family (almost 2 million strong) on the mall.


Micol Ostow said...

I can't believe you were actually there! Our MFA program had a group viewing with lots of kleenex on hand!

Nancy K said...

Wow! What an amazing experience. It will stay with you for the rest of your life I'm sure. Luckily, the frost bite will not. :)