Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Day After

I woke up surprisingly early Wednesday morning, but my associate and I didn't leave until around noon since we spent some time gathering our things and chatting with our gracious hosts. We had no major plans after the inauguration, other than to eventually rendezvous with our family in Massachusetts in a couple of days. With a bit of extra time on our hands, we decided to head back to DC and check out the inaugural aftermath. We stopped for gas at a station just outside Bethesda; as I went in to pay I overheard some of the mechanics, an otherwise lowbrow looking group, bragging about all of the inaugural balls they had gone to the night before. My associate later overheard them talking about how angry they were at the possibility of one of their nephews being sent to Iraq.

We stopped off at the National Cathedral, which earlier that day had been the site of a prayer session which Obama had attended. The Cathedral itself was quite impressive, clearly having been designed by someone who was afraid of God. We snapped a few pictures of the impressive exterior, then went in. My first stop was the bathroom, which was inconveniently located at the end of a hall and down a flight of stairs. On my way down, I noticed one of the bricks in the wall was inscribed with the word "Gitmo", which made me think for a second that this cathedral might have its own torture facility - hey, with some churches, you never know.

Heading back up to the main level, we entered the main cathedral hall. A prominent sign suggested we donate $5, but being short for cash, we decided not to give money and keep our visit short. This may have offended God, but thankfully he decided not to smite us. The church was relatively empty, but I talked with a woman who had been outside the church earlier and she said the whole area was completely packed. Obama had apparently been whisked in and out through a secret side entrance so as to be minimally exposed to the proletariat. Oh well. At least his presidency is a bit holier now. LCD screens lining the aisles still displayed a "message of hope" for all to read. However, the woman I was talking with, a filmmaker from New York, actually recognized me from the blog. Hot damn, I'm famous!

We left the church after taking a photo for a young couple visiting the church. Afterward, we drove south to the center of town, which gave us a good reminder of why we don't usually drive through the center of town in DC. It took nearly half an hour to get from Thomas Circle to the south side of the Mall, a distance of roughly 10 blocks. At least that gave us a good look at the parade route and the mall. Many of the metal barriers and parade seats were still up, though much of the trash had miraculously been collected. The best part was that while we were doing this, we were also listening to news about Obama's first day on the radio. Not being political insiders, it was the best we could do.

And so we left the noble capitol city, taking the not-so-noble Baltimore Expressway out of town. On our way our, we caught one last glimpse of the Capitol Dome, silhouetted against the reddening dusk sky. While it would have been nice to stick around longer, we had our own lives to continue with, and we were reassured by the knowledge that that dome had a new employee who would do things differently, and better.

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