Four years ago yesterday I was a full-time working mother of a one-year-old little girl. I lived in downtown Baltimore and, aside for the issue of parking, still loved it.
Pretty much everything has changed since then. And yet, when I watched the inauguration this morning (this time from the elliptical at the gym and then from my couch), I felt very much the same as I did four years ago. In that spirit, I'm sharing my post from four years and one day ago, originally posted here.
It does not offend my sensibilities or seem contradictory to me to choose the things I believe in from whichever side, then weigh them to see who comes out on top (or least on the bottom), even if that means an R on one ballot column and a D on another. Aside from the irritation I have over not being able to vote in primaries as a voter of undeclared loyalty, this works for me. I believe there is only one man who ever could have saved us and changed everything, and he's already been here once, and he's not the president. Still, I'm not easily sucked into "the sky is falling," overwrought predictions. I think if I say God is in control, then I should act like it, not like the leader of the free world has more power than the one who created it. But still, it's complicated.
Living in proximity to D.C. probably sounds much more exciting than it usually is. In college in North Carolina, the 7-foot Australian I had driven to the grocery store boasted that his home was 30 minutes from members of the then-popular band, Savage Garden. "Really," I said casually, "Well I live about 30 minutes from the President of the United States. You might have heard of him." But everyone here knows that distance rarely has any impact on how long it takes to get somewhere, and that in many ways, Baltimore is a world away from D.C. So I brag about my friend on Capitol Hill, and friends from the south think I'm savvy, but I just pay attention; I don't really know. Even so, the week leading up to the inauguration was interesting. I took for granted the signs above the Baltimore-Washington Parkway I travel every day that said, "Inauguration Jan 20. Expect Heavy Delays." Friends and colleagues were off because they couldn't get to work. Others I knew stayed home to watch TV; others I knew were actually in the thick of it. But not me.
On Tuesday morning I stood in a dark conference room with a man I'd never met staring at the TV in the corner. "I'm glad they have it on somewhere," he said, watching the masses wait on the Mall. "Driving up 95 this morning, I felt really...lonely. During the election, no one here said anything. It's just so bizarre."
We discussed the unique environment where we work, which tends to be a bastion of Republican ideals in the middle of a very blue state. I told him, "Last week I mentioned concern about traffic on inauguration day, and a colleague said to me, 'I don't really think he's that popular around here, is he?'" Which, I guess, just proves you can always find someone to tell you what you want to hear. Later that morning we were joined by others who brought their lunch and sat mostly in silence to watch the ceremony, and it was a little less lonely.
No matter who you voted for, I think it's hard not to feel proud to be part of a country where it's possible to hold elections and execute peaceful transfers of power, to assemble millions of people in one place without a single arrest, and to elect as president a member of a race that was not so long ago in chains. And while I reject the idea that any one person could fix all that ails us, I hold a cautious hope that some change will do us good.