The Inauguration was an experience. I can’t describe it better than that. It was a deeply saddening and country-crushing experience. I watched as Trump supporters cheered, high-fived, and didn’t hug with joy so much as rallied together as if they had successfully taken something from another group rather than winning something that requires responsibility. In other words, they were excited to win but didn’t seem to have the poise to do something with the win, as if the win was the end of it, like in a football game or something.
Prior to the oath, there were some protests and some verbal clashes caught on camera, but it wasn’t really until that night that things got heated. I encountered so many different types of traffic. While being surrounded by cars or people or barricades doesn’t seem, in itself, to measure the gravity of an Inauguration, to me, it was exactly what I needed to see.
There were eight different types of things in our way: police, National Guard, snow plows with their plows interlocked, protesters, other cars trying to get around, wooden barricades, planned by ever-updating road closures, and riot police armed with shields and pepper spray. There were motorcades and protests and police and military relocating, and there was one moment I saw something that kept reminding me, with every foot we drove, that we were in a place of great importance. Not only were we in D.C., around 9th and M Street, N.W. but we were in D.C. on that day.
We were on 9th, going toward M and the Mount Vernon Square Metro Station, and I see people turning left onto 9th, going toward us, from M Street. Then I see people turning left from 9th onto M, or so I thought. Bare in mind turning left from M onto 9th is illegal because you’d have to be going to the wrong way down M Street to do it, but I was focused on a much different layer of the situation. I was with someone, as well, so we were talking about everything from her needing to get to work and her crying in her bed around noon time, ya know, when Trump took the oath…in case you didn’t piece that together. Anyway, I also saw people turning right from M Street onto 9th, which I knew didn’t make sense because I at least knew it was a one-way street in that part of town.
Then I realized EVERYONE was making the largest U-TURN in the history of the WORLD. We’re sitting there in my car, my friend is freaking out because D.C. police motorcycles were behind me and perhaps she thought the end of Earth in front of my car, and we have to pull this incredibly large U-turn to go the opposite way on 9th, which just led to another dead stop but eventually got us to New York Avenue, at which point, being a thoroughfare, the traffic fanned out somewhat. We at least made it to 10mph for a brief moment, which was a relief. Her total ride would end up at about 5 miles for an hour and a half when she’d needed to be to work in 20 minutes in the Navy Yard.
What I realized on this night is that, as much as we were going backward (in history), sitting still (in shock and despair) and moving slowly but maybe not even knowing if we’re going the right direction or if even the concept of progress had changed from moving forward to blocking a move backward, we were doing. We were doing. It was us. It was that night (and especially later that night with parties and screaming at Trump supporters, one rider even handing out rose petals as a Love Trumps Hate message and offering free rides in my car) that I realized it’s us. It’s us. We’re the ones that are doing this. We’re the ones that are making this happen. We’re part of it.