As you could probably tell from my preview, our Inaugural experience was less than expected to say the very least. We had decided to stay with my generous friend Amy Hille who only lives several blocks from the Capitol so that we could wake up early and get a good place in line. I received two now infamous purple tickets from my office and we had discussed the day before how thankful we were that we wouldn't have to deal with the masses on the Mall...oh how wrong we were.
We both woke up at 6am and Nicholas set out to scope out the situation and get a spot in line. When he arrived, the line was orderly and he was directed to the end of the line which reached down into an underground tunnel near the Capitol. He told me to wait until 8 or 8:30 to join him. When I started walking over there around that time, I thought I would start at the gate and then follow the line back to Nicholas. However, when I arrived at the gate there was no more line to be found and the entire block was filled with people with no movement. The gate should have been open for an hour at this point.
I waited for about 30 minutes to see if anything would happen. During this time, a woman fainted near me and they had to call a doctor from the crowd because there were no police or volunteers or emergency workers to be found. Finally, I decided that I just wanted to find Nicholas and leave and attempted to find the entrance to the tunnel where he was still trapped. When I attempted to walk that way, the street was completely block and people told me no one was getting through. I then turned around and called Nicholas. We decided to meet back at Amy's apartment.
However, when I went back down C St., they had opened a gate and begun to let a very small amount of people through an opening the size of two door ways. Since there was a crowd of literally thousands trying to squeeze through this entry, the crowd would surge everytime someone would get through, packing us all in tighter and tighter. At this point, I had no choice but to stay with the crowd. I could not move my arms much less turn around.
Far from being happy that I was getting closer and closer to an entrance, I started to panic as the pressure from all sides increased. Luckily, the people around me were calm and patient and tried to talk to me and keep me calm. It was just so terrifying to feel the pressure increasing, especially around my stomach, and I couldn't help but feel like I had put myself and my baby in a really risky situation.
I finally got through the gate to a near empy security screening area. I called Nicholas, who had gotten back to Amy's, and basically burst into tears. I didn't want to be there - not by myself - and I hated so much that Nicholas was missing it. I tried really hard to be positive and think that I could tell my daughter she was there. As the ceremony started, I just tried to focus on the moment. I was close enough I could actually see Obama on the podium, which was pretty amazing, and I did enjoy witnessing the event and hearing his speech.
Looking back, I realize now that compared to some other ticketholders Nicholas and I were pretty lucky. We hadn't spent our hard earned money traveling from far away. Plus, we both actually got to hear the speech live unlike so many others who got trapped outside the entry or in the tunnel. Nicholas says that at the end of the day we both saw the ceremony the way we wanted. I wanted to be there and he wanted to be on the couch.