Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Low key inauguration day

(Picture via Huffington Post)

I was kind of surprised on my way to work that everything (and everyone) was pretty low key.

I stayed at home long enough to hear President Obama (I do like being able to type that) give his inauguration speech, then I left for work. I made a point to walk down 18th so I could walk up Castro on my way to work, expecting to encounter some signs of celebration, even if only small and localized. But it was quiet. Relatively few cars on the streets for 9:30 a.m., many empty parking spaces on Castro Street. Through the open window of one bar, I saw several people (including an elderly black man in uniform) with their eyes glued to a television, but otherwise, everyone seemed to be going about their daily routine.

I took the F-Market to work, and it was pretty much the same story all the way up Market Street. I saw an occasional person wearing an Obama shirt, but no outward displays of jubilation.

The only thing of note (totally unrelated to the inauguration) was a homeless man on the F who seemed to be entertaining himself, which seemed kind of fitting after the events of my commute home last night. At first, this 300-plus pound man was flopping his limp-wristed hands around and talking to no one in particular, I couldn't even understand what he was saying. Then he turned around and stared purposefully toward the rear of the car. He turned his head and scanned everyone on the F and said, "ARF! ARF, everyone, ARF!"

Then he stood up and grabbed his Hefty bag full of possessions and stopped beside the young woman seated in front of where he had been sitting, leaned down into her face and snapped, "ARF!" He stopped at every seat between him and the front door and said "ARF!" into each and every face on the right side of the car, most of whom were children under the age of 12. Once he got off the streetcar, everyone who had been holding their breath exhaled and started laughing.

Anyway, the long national nightmare is ended. We have a new president. Finally.

I know a lot of people who have been so burned so badly and so often over the last eight years that they are afraid to have genuine hope for anything. They're convinced that something or someone will come along to take their hope away from them yet again, either by violence or by politcal maneuvering by the extreme right or political blunders by the extreme left. And I have to admit that maybe they're justified to some degree, given our country's recent history.

But I think that they secretly hope for hope.

On a related note (no pun intended): The Freedom Band has a tradition. When politics permit, the band keeps "Happy Days Are Here Again" as an active number in the marching music. You can imagine that the band has had this song in storage since the year 2000, not playing it at all for the last eight years. I have been wondering whether it was the right time to bring it back out, given the mixed blessing of the election of Obama versus the passage of Proposition 8. But I have been informed that the band is officially adding "Happy Days Are Here Again" back to its standard repertoire.

For what that's worth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mark Morford had a column about Obama and people afraid to hope. Glad you're not one of them :)

I know I'm young and naive, but I have never felt this hopeful about politics and about being American in my entire life.