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Glimpses January 23, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

On Veteran’s Day, just after the election of his successor, President Reagan spoke at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. I had never been in the real-live presence—however many hundreds of feet away—of an American president before (oddly, I had been in the room with a Canadian prime minister). Even though I’d voted against the guy twice, I decided to attend. This involved, basically, a long walk across the street from my place of employment and, likely, permission from my boss.

It was a good speech, delivered eloquently. I was glad I went.

During the next four years, I caught nary a glimpse of the president.

But in January 1993, I was working mere blocks from the mall, and some coworkers and I attended President Clinton’s inauguration “over lunch.” It was great fun. We got surprisingly close to the Capitol, given everything, and I, by this time a birder, had my binoculars with me. Between the binoculars and the JumboTrons, we saw and heard enough to know that we’d been there.

I saw Clinton twice more before leaving DC. Once, friends from Vermont came for a visit, and as we were showing them around, the president had the courtesy to have his motorcade pass us. This scored us some big host points.

The last time, the cherry blossoms were in bloom. During the briefness of blossoms, I’d try to use my lunch hour to walk around the Tidal Basin. One day, things were a bit more crowded than usual. Turned out the president was going to give a speech. I waited and heard it. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was about. I do remember feeling lucky to have run into him again.

I thought about trying to get to Obama’s inauguration. For about a second. I knew my body, with its particular issues, would not be up to hours of standing around in the cold. I knew how hard it would be to get downtown. I have friends living in that area who absolutely refused to try. Not only was my former place of employment shut down on Tuesday, but it was closed Wednesday as well—a godsend, said a contact there, given how messed up the trains were.

The chances of getting on the mall were practically nil. The chances of seeing President Obama even niller.

A couple of friends traveled there; both had access to office buildings on the parade route from which to watch things unfold. Sue didn’t get to see the Obamas. They got out of the car before her building, got back in before they reached her, and got out again after they had passed. Leyla was luckier. She got a good look.

Sue snapped some good photos, though, some of which I’ll post here:






I spent the entire day and evening by the woodstove in a cozy Vermont home watching the inauguration with friends. It was great.

Still, it’s been awhile since I’ve thought it would be cool to see a president in person. I experienced a few wish-I-was-there jabs.

And between the inauguration, location shots on 24 this season, and Tony Bourdain’s DC episode this week, I’ve almost felt a little homesick.


1. Cedar Waxwing - January 23, 2009

As you know, I didn’t go down. I know I could not have stood the cold. From what I hear, though, the trip down was not as bad as was predicted. Dean went — and I suppose we’ll say he represented the Patrick / Follmann clan on the Mall.

If you do get really homesick — don’t forget to let me know and maybe we can finally meet.

2. Adam Byrn Tritt - January 23, 2009

I must get to DC one day. I think this summer or fall we will try. We’ve people to stay with and were told getting where we want to go from there would be no trouble at all.

Yet, in these many years, we have not gone. Since seeing Bourdain’s show this week, we want to go even more.

3. She She - January 23, 2009

Great pictures. Watching the inauguration made me feel homesick, too, and I’ve only been to DC once. My boss went and said it was a transcendent experience.

4. LisaS - January 23, 2009

the patterns of the people, of the vehicles on the street are very interesting …. your friend had a great view on the day!

5. Mali - January 23, 2009

DC is one of my favourite cities in the world. I keep urging my husband to apply for jobs at the World Bank. I can understand being homesick for it.

6. Joya - January 23, 2009

I’ve never been in the presence of a president, but my husband was at some annual press dinner with GWB a few years ago. He was pretty excited, even though he hates the man. Something to do with the power of the position, I suppose.

7. Helen - January 24, 2009

Which prime minister?

8. Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb - January 24, 2009

Ah, DC! I still get a (little) pang.

We probably passed each other on the Mall in the 90’s, not to mention in Westminster in the 80’s.

9. indigobunting - January 25, 2009

CW: I look forward to the day we meet!

A: DC in summer? Maybe DC in fall. But you ARE living in Florida, so maybe you’ll manage.

SS: I often feel homesick for places I’ve been once. Or at least yearny.

L: I found all the patterns fascinating too.

M: It warms my heart to hear someone call DC one of her favourite cities in the world. So many don’t love it, but I really did.

J: I do in fact respect the office, if not always the person in it. Iget why your husband would be excited.

H: Pierre Trudeau (http://songsfromthefield.blogspot.com/2007/03/30365-logical-song.html).

E(L)BC: I often envision us passing one another on the streets of Westminster, at the college, at L’Enfant Plaza, like in some movie in which you know the characters have to meet and so many times almost did…

10. Helen - January 25, 2009

I’m impressed. I would think of all the prime ministers we’ve had in my lifetime, he would be the one to meet.

11. damyantig - January 25, 2009

Well, I’ll be in DC sometime this year. (I hope)

I also watched the inauguration, for as long as I could, because the parade was somewhere around 2-3 am where I live!

12. Susan - January 28, 2009

I know we’re not playing Can You Top This (which is fortunate, since Presidents trump First Ladies), but feel compelled to recycle these 40 words.

13. indigobunting - January 28, 2009

There’s nothing I love more than a good old-fashioned 365 recycling! Thank you!

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