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Scenes from a Treadmill: Inauguration Day 2009

20 January 2009

Where were you when Barack Obama took the oath of office as the 44th President of the(se) United States? What were you doing when our country saw, for the first time ever, someone who is not a white man become our Commander-in-Chief?

My answer for all future generations: Attempting to run on a treadmill at the gym.

I thought it was a great plan. My gym has TVs on every treadmill; I had to go to the gym anyway to work off some of the weekend festivities; watching something will take my mind off how utterly out of shape I am. Right?

Honestly, what was I thinking? I’m unemployed. It’s not like I had important appointments to keep. I could have been anywhere. I mean, not D.C. – that would have been hard what with the no plane tickets and no place to stay – but at least downtown or at the DuSable Museum of African-American History. Somewhere other than at a stuffy gym surrounded by sweaty strangers.

But really, maybe it wasn’t that bad of an idea. I had the TV all to myself, with headphones so that the grunting bodybuilders posing and preening to my right wouldn’t bother me. That little ditty by John Williams had a pretty good beat to it, so that helped keep me on track for a few minutes. (How much do Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman rock? And I don’t normally like the clarinet, but I have to find more by Anthony McGill. Loved it!)

And, I realized at the end, I was not as alone in all this as I had thought. In the midst of sweaty strangers, I was able to share this moment in history with other people. As President Obama spoke, I noticed the three people surrounding me on the other treadmills were also watching. The woman to my right even clapped at one point. As Reverend Lowery shared the benediction, the man to my left laughed slightly.

And then, right at the end, when Rev. Lowery beseeched all those who do justice and love mercy to say “amen,” I found myself unconsciously saying amen out loud. The three people around me did the same. We all glanced around at each other and smiled, a little embarrassed but happy that we were not alone in this moment.

So, yes, it might seem silly and a bit cheesy – living through this historic moment while going nowhere on a treadmill – but I’ll never forget it.

For those of you who cannot read Hungarian, Chili's Obamaicon-me reads "Yes We Can." I wanted to put "Yes We Did," but Chili says we still have work to do and chided me for not listening more closely to Prez Obama's speech.

For those of you who cannot read Hungarian, Chili's Obamaicon-me reads "Yes We Can." I wanted to put "Yes We Did," but Chili says we still have work to do and chided me for not listening more closely to Prez Obama's speech.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. D.A.D. permalink
    22 January 2009 1:40 pm

    I was just getting out of a class…went up to my office, and discovered that the Internet was nearly inaccessible in terms of getting a live feed. So I went to the NY Times page and read the speech to myself, using Obama cadence. Later, when I watched it on DVR, I thought I got it down pretty well.

    Rev. Lowery was totally boss. And I am a huge Michelle Obama fan. Dick Chaney looked like Scrooge; I kind of felt sorry he had to endure all that in a wheelchair…but then I didn’t.

    So, there.

  2. Mom permalink
    14 February 2009 8:26 am

    Love the Chili picture!

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