Tuesday, January 20, 2009

6. A.M., January 20th

At about 6 A.M., I could hear cheering directly outside of my window. It seemed much too close to be coming from the Capitol, and was clearly a very large crowd--hundreds, perhaps a thousand or more. It was too early for a pre-Inaugural concert, too late for a late-night party, and too large.

I went to the window. Directly below was a gigantic throng, wrapped in overcoats, scarves. They were standing before a gate, that had been set up to channel traffic to the Mall. They were shouting, cheering with excitement, with the desire to get there, to be there. People ran down the street like streaking flares, to join and become part of the crowd. One girl dropped her scarf, and in her excitement, just ran on, then came back to grab it.

The joy was palpable, the excitement of being part of it and wanting to be part of it, of milling before a nation that they felt they could finally belong to. They wanted to run towards it and be free.

I've never seen this kind of enthusiasm about politics in 10 years in this city.
Obama is carrying the enthusiasm of a world today. It is not clear what it will become. But the excitement, the joy in a new and freer world, is extraordinary.