Friday, January 20, 2017

Presidential Inauguration, 2008


2008 was a hard year, for me and more so for a lot of other people. I graduated college, moved to Brooklyn, and wasn't particularly grateful for the job I would later come to love. The economy was in shambles, and this Onion article felt scarily true in some ways, but it was such a joy to feel the change in the air, scary as things were. On Election Day, we had a half day, and after voting, I went with my roommate, whose firm had been working on the campaign, to her work party. All season long, she had been told not to tell anyone but her spouse what she was working on, and she told me and our second roommate, "You guys are my spouse" and it felt like we were all part of something bigger than ourselves. At the party, everyone knew he was going to win, and the air was electric. When it was called, pretty early, I think, we all cried.

I vaguely wanted to go to the Inauguration, but didn't, and I'm not sure why. Probably money, which I didn't have a ton of back then. My office set up a TV so that we could all watch it, and we all cried again. A perhaps little-remembered fact is that Obama was sworn in on the Lincoln Bible, a Bible published (like many of the best Bibles) by Oxford University Press. I felt so connected on that day, and so proud of where I was working and what I was doing, even though I couldn't be there in person. Of all the things making me sick about today's Inauguration, the fact that Trump will use that same Bible—instead of, say, a family Bible encased in gold—is making me feel the worst.

But then, I had no idea how I'd be feeling or where I'd be today. Everything in those first years after college felt momentous and heady and so, so possible. Since then, things are feeling less and less possible as I slowly close doors in my life and move forward on one path. On Election Day this year, I felt that same electric air as my coworkers left the building to go vote and we all said, "Let's go make history!" And of course, we didn't at all, and that possibility felt, if not impossible again, then at least pushed back a while.

But seeing everything that President Obama could accomplish these past eight years, seeing everything I and my friends and my family and my country could accomplish and grow in that same time, I know that possibility isn't over or closed off. It's just a little harder to see, and that just means I need to work even harder to see it.

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