I was alone for the election, and that didn't feel right, so I just got on my trike and went downtown. They were broadcasting PBS coverage of the inauguration at the Academy of Music, with a speech from the mayor and, rumor has it, a video message to the people of our town from Rachel Maddow (who's lived around here a long time -- she emceed an poorly attended lgbt event I read at kind of a lot of years ago), but the free tickets were all gone in a flash. There is going to be a rebroadcast there at 6, and they were also showing it at the Senior Center and Smith College, and I hadn't decided where to go. I rode up through town, where everything was very quiet, then circled back and parked to go to the Paradise City Tavern. As I was locking the trike, a guy in a t-shirt from the restaurant came running hard up the sidewalk, slushy spots and all. As I was walking in, he came running back with a big roll of cash. Must have run out of change.
The place was packed, standing room only, so I found a spot to lean on the wall behind some people at the bar. They were joined, eventually, as more people crowded in behind me, by a family with a three year old and a baby who had a dazed, open-mouthed look on his face. He seemed pretty overwhelmed by the shouting and clapping (his sister put her hands over her ears), but when things quieted down for President Obama's speech, he was sitting on his dad's shoulders, and started making talking sounds himself. He was watching the screen and clapping, then pounding on his father's head. All around him, we laughed noiselessly, not to interupt the speech.
Also, from the speech: choose our better history.
Our better history, not falsified, not erasing other ways to tell and live and know the stories, but chosen and studied and understood and expanded and built from. I'm for that.
As I left, the running guy from the sidewalk held open the door and asked if I'd had the buffet. I hadn't spent any money at all, and don't think I could have if I'd wanted to. A man sitting on the cold sidewalk under the train overpass asked me for money (which will be illegal if the panhandling law passes). I said no, and then, as a police officer was coming towards us, walked a little ways further, then stopped to watch. The officer stopped to say something to the man on the ground, then fumbled in his pocket, and gave him a cigarette. I left them having a smoke. It seemed to be a civil moment, hard-won and far from certain, I know, but I was grateful.
As I was getting on my trike, I saw two women (maybe mother and adult daughter) who had been behind me at the bar, and as I waved at them, the younger one yelled, "Obama," and the older one yelled, "Don't forget to pound your head!" It was a joke about the baby. I pounded my head and waved from the trike.
Open poetry reading, Yellow Sofa, starts at 6:30 tonight.