Over the past few weeks, I’ve tried several times to sit down and record our inauguration experience. Upon returning from DC, Rob and I were contentedly exhausted from the festivities and still had a week’s worth of “day jobs” to catch up on, so the blog update just had to wait. We were getting daily emails from folks wanting to know how the Inaugural Ball had gone, and every time I caught a glimpse of a newspaper headline or heard anyone on NPR refer to “President Obama” I got a little thrill and looked forward to the chance to sit down and write.
But in the weeks that followed, the freelance work I was doing abruptly dropped off, Obama’s economic stimulus package was being dismembered in congress, and friends left and right were being laid off. It suddenly became very difficult to find that “place” I was in only weeks before. It seemed impossible to recapture the emotion that Rob and I experienced while watching the swearing in ceremony, or the elation we felt seeing our work at a fancy Inaugural Ball, huge on a 15-foot tall screen.
I strained to remember how we had comically scrambled at the last minute to find formalwear for a gala-filled weekend, and the hours spent on technical problems with the Project video that nearly derailed our part in the events. I had already forgotten how Tamala, the organizer of the People’s Inaugural Ball had been so enthusiastic about including our Project in the event, and how Sharese, the curator of the Ball’s video instillation, was so encouraging and supportive of our work. After the Ball, Rob and I had taken a walk down the Mall at 3am, the morning before it was to be transformed into a sea of people to witness the historic inaugural ceremony. It amazes me how quickly even life’s most poignant moments can begin to fade from memory.
In the last few weeks I’ve seen how rapidly today’s misfortune can unseat yesterday’s joy, how new demands force us to turn all too quickly from our own successes. But in this way I’ve come to realize the true value of what Rob and I attempted with this Project. We all need to be reminded, all the time, of how powerful our small victories are and how important it is to hold on to the big ones. Times are really hard for a lot of us right now. But remembering can give us strength - we can fortify our sense of hope by looking back, and remembering how much we have accomplished.
We sat in the darkened theater of the Washington DC Historical Society with our video playing within a continuous loop, as men and women, elegantly dressed in tuxes and ball gowns, came to watch. And as I watched, I remembered meeting each of those people Rob photographed, and how grateful I was to every one of them for reminding me that I was not alone. I am so glad we were there to document the energy and excitement of a moment when so many of us decided to work for change in our country. And I’m doubly glad to have those memories and images from which to draw strength now, with so much work ahead.
We Are The Ones we’ve been waiting for!