I don’t even know that this movie/book is about or if it's even the name of the movie, but it connotes some epic shit, and on the real, that’s what we were on.
To start at the beginning:
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
On the eve of this historic day, United States citizens chose Barack Obama as their president-elect. Regardless of political affiliation, this man had to be, and was recognized as shift in the current collective tolerance for how government and the United States represents the American people.
Many others have far eloquent reflections from this very night, but from the ground up in Los Angeles, CA it felt like New Years. The streets were alive with smiles, arms, legs, hands, honks, cries, yelps, hugs, wheels, glass, fire, and smoke.
Personally, I was in a cozy bar with close friends sharing all of the above, hearts full and heavy, minds completely blown.
Fast forward less than 2 weeks later and with an email prompt from Liz Albertson, Michelle Garakian and I decide that there is absolutely no reason why we should not be attending Barack Obama’s inauguration.
And thus the epic 8-day trip begins.
Thursday, January 15, 2009: LAX – ATL – TYS (Knoxville, TN)
Saturday, January 16, 2009: Arrive in DC
Sunday, January 17, 2009: Welcoming Ceremony
Tuesday, January 20, 2009: Swearing in Ceremony
Wednesday, January 21, 2009: Arrive Baltimore
Thursday, January 22, 2009: BWI – ATL – LAX
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Somehow our excitement for the impending trip to the East did not translate into making sure everything was packed ahead of time, so once business was handled in that department, we found ourselves at the end of an equation marked
EXCITEMENT 2:00am at 2605 1/2 = two ladies + anticipation (a full pack, nearly 3 bottles of wine, Springsteen on vinyl, Barbara Lewis on loop) - work for the next 8 days
…exponentially increasing as the second hand ticked solidly into the morning hours
It was like the night before you knew you’d be heading to Disney World. We stayed up in anticipation of the things to come. Advice: If you’re going to pull an all nighter for no apparent reason, do not, repeat, DO NOT, switch to red wine after two bottles of white. You will be instantly knocked out and wake up with the most kickingest breath.
Armed with 3 hours of sleep and a healthy buzz, Michelle and I have the esteemed pleasure of having Mo Twine take us to the airport. Not without a stop along the way to (1) pick up forgotten bootleg Obama T-shirt from my house, and (2) croissants, cinny buns, and glazed treats. Apparently, Mo is quite versed in the donut game around town and this particular SpudNuts near USC is so dependably delicious that it also doubles over as Mo’s office and conference room. TCB.
Recovered SMS conversation
Michelle: Me too. I could kill that bucktoof bitch.
Tattiya: Yo, why they always got the most scurryest broad to be the manager type?
Michelle: i’m so hungover this is a test from god.
Tattiya: dude i'm trying not to pass out right now.
Michelle: Shanzi has it. En route.
Michelle: You on board?
Michelle: Are you flying? I’m gonna stalk that ho
Michelle: FUCK THAT BITCH
Michelle: See you fools at 1046pm. Fuck these assholes.
Michelle: In coldlanta, leaving at 950 for knx. Be in by 1046. See ya then. Delta is for ho’s.
One expired license and expired passport later, Michelle was en route to Knoxville, TN. In the 1.5 hour between when I arrive to an unusually cold Knoxville (coldest day in 6 years!), Liz and I manage to experience Thai food and two Johnnie Walker Black Labels neat. $5.75. Goddamn.
Once we come back to home base, wine flowed and pizza was consumed while Liz let us experience her “Sister Wife” (read: Mormon) wig. It was perfect for Liz, sassy on Michelle, and made me look like a pretty pony. Did that stop us from tromps-ing around channeling Southern charm? Chris Buckner, affectionately nicknamed “Chrissy”, Liz’s roommate was not ready for us.
“Chrissy’s Southern Style Dorito Salad Recipe”
Layer Cool Ranch Doritos in a casserole pan.
Layer room temperature refried beans.
Layer grated cheese.
Layer Pace Picante or other nasty salsa.
Layer sour cream.
Another layer of Cool Ranch Doritos.
Sprinkle with scallions, black olives, and a can of Ro*Tel.
I’ve had the pleasure twice now to visit this city and it never ceases to entertain. This time I had the extreme pleasure of seeing it through the eyes of another experiencing the city for the first time. For Michelle, as for I, it was love at first site. We were educated, amazed, befriended, and of course, well fed and thoroughly intoxicated.
I found myself apologising upon leaving to a friend, “I’m sorry that I came in like a whirlwind or Tazmanian Devil for a day and a half and leaving carnage in the wake of my quick escape.” He said he kind of liked it that way, and I realized that I kind of do too.
I came to here to do one thing… Bear witness. Unfortunate for me, I was sick the entire DC trip as my lymph nodes always revolt when there is a drastic change in temperature. That did not stop me, however, from putting all the clothes I had with me on my body and braving the cold to see history in the making.
I feel like when I try to describe this experience, I end up sounding like a mash up between child talking about her father’s job responsibilities – I can’t say that I’m 100% sure I know what he’s in charge of or how much power he actually has, but I do know that his responsibilities are immense, vast, and amazing – a really sentimental, idealistic girlfriend of some famous musician – in awe of how his presence and craft can evoke so much visceral emotions – or a crackhead – we needed some of that good shit BAD and I’m ready to go the distance for this fool if only he’ll give us what we want.
On the real, Barack Obama had me wide open.
First line about the opening ceremony in the Washingon Post, “Rap fans danced to country music…” When Garth Brooks singing “Shout” has thousands of people twisting down to a hunch, whispering “A little bit softer now…” and Stevie Wonder is vocalizing Barack Obama’s name, it sweeps you up and you can’t help but be optimistic.
Inauguration day was emotional, intense, and surreal. Taking the Metro and walking to the Capitol after waking up at 5am was sobering and intoxicating at the same time – was this really happening and yes, this is happening; people of earlier generations as well as mine own doubting that this event would take place in their lifetime. Elders turning to the very young saying, “See, you can do whatever you want.” Tears in trickles and floods. Boos for Bush, Hallelujahs and Amens for the benediction from all denominations, and pure enegry from the crowd. Navigating our way to the Silver section (we had tickets, hwhat?!), I leaned over the side of a highway filled with human bodies lined up and yelled, “What color are your tickets?” A resounding “PURPLE” and cheers instantaneous produced smiles all around. People were supremely pumped.
I, personally, always had a mixed relationship with being American. I was born on the Fourth of July and was the first generation raised in America as opposed to Thailand. Here people want to know my heritage, nationality (American, fool!), and ethnicity, but everywhere else in the world I’m an American. I believe in Buddhist teachings, but want a white wedding in a Church. I never said “God” during the Pledge of Allegence, but I love the way the American flag looks, red, white, and blue. I believe the underlying principles in which our nation is based are noble, but I am aware of the circumstances that lead the American people to collectively develop in a certain way. I love the United States and desire more for it at the same time. But, on this day – January 20th – I was afford the time and space to believe that we are on our way to make the United States a better place, not just for Americans, but also as active participants in the larger world. Obama’s speech lingers in my mind and while I can say with confidence that he is not our savior, his ideals and goals are one that I would also strive and sacrifice for. I believe that he has our best interests in mind and hot damn, he has a long road ahead. As with all other important things in my life, I try not to have high expectations – I believe he’s going to do the best he can while serving the American people.
Side note: The Obama schwag was top notch.
Amy (parahase): Baltimore was voted one of the ugliest cities in the United States – not really the city, but the people in it. I never thought I was hot, but when I walk into a bar, I’m pretty intimidating.
City of Scrapple, I hardly knew thee, but I would love to have you open up to me and show me what you got. Until next time…
Many thanks to the Knoxville Crew: Liz, Chris, Travis, David, and Brian, DC Crew: Kara and Alex, and Baltimore's Finest: Amy, for being amazing hospitable; we are forever indebted to you.