In November, I say to my good friend, Joanne (while she's still in the hospital, having just given birth), "Hey, let's go to the inauguration!"
She responds, God love her, "Oh, I'm so there!" We email our congressmen, hope for tickets. Time passes. The brain cells we (okay, I'll speak for myself, I) lost during pregnancy and childbirth grow back. We realize that perhaps, perhaps, it wouldn't be fun to stand on the National Mall for five or so hours, infant sons strapped into Baby Bjorns, as the Arctic winds howl and our sons demand to be breastfed. All to point at a speck in the distance and say, "That's Obama!"
So, instead, we're going to watch the inauguration from her house, eating pizza (which we're pretending is Chicago-style) while the older boys play with monster trucks and the infants demand to be breastfed (some things never change).
The main drag of my home, Calvert County, is Route 4. If you follow Route 4 long enough, it eventually turns into Pennsylvania Avenue. Consequently, I tell out-of-towners that I live "just down the road from the president." If one visits Calvert County, he or she will discover that we have a Wal-Mart AND an Applebees. We're pretty metropolitan-- that is, if you're visiting from Ghana or the Navajo Reservation. However, most people would find Calvert County to be....lacking in fine dining or culture. To that, I reply, "Yes, but I live right down the road from the President..."
I get a kick out of the concept that I can drive to DC and do interesting, even historical things. I rarely do any of these things, but I could, I could! Pre-children, Paul and I would take the Metro in and go to museums, restaurants, and even performances. Together, we attended the International Spy Museum, ate with our fingers at an Ethiopian restaurant, and attended a reading by my literary hero, David Sedaris. It was so cool for a girl from suburban Arizona to be in a big city, doing big city stuff.
With the boys, our trips to DC have been far less frequent. Okay, Joel hasn't been there at all, yet. The focus has changed, too. Instead of Irish pubs or walking tours of Georgetown ("Here are the famous steps that the priest fell down at the end of The Exorcist"), we take Owen to the National Zoo to see the Pandas, or the National History Museum to look at the dinosaur bones.
Owen has also seen his father and uncle run the Marine Corps Marathon. Although these are not necessarily the things I want to see the most (except for the marathon, of course), I love experiencing them with Owen and Joel's fresh eyes.
So, while I won't see Obama become president in person, I still have the gumption and the need to do something big, something historic in The District with the boys and Paul. Someday, I will dress them up in their finest, and make them roll Easter Eggs on the White House Lawn. I will drag them downtown during the height of the Mid-Atlantic Summer to see the fireworks on Independence Day. They will march up and down every inch of that Mall, and see every monument...even the Jefferson Memorial, even though it is far away and inconvenient.
Who knows, maybe we'll even see a speck, and one of us will say, "Hey, That's Obama!" He is our neighbor, after all.