I know this week’s topic is Judging a Book by its Cover. But remember when your first child was born? Can you remember anything else that happened that week? Maybe Princess Diana died, or a tsunami swallowed half of Indonesia or a war finally ended and all you were really aware of was the absolute perfection of your baby’s nostrils. It was as if nothing else really existed in those first few days.
Well, I just got back from Washington DC. We took the kids to the Mall for the We Are One concert. I was THERE for the Inauguration. St. John marched in THE PARADE. And for me, for a few more days anyway, nothing else exists. So please forgive me if I don’t write about the book cover of FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA (which I do love, by the way). Allow me to wax all emotional just a little bit longer, about the perfection of this baby’s nostrils.
Everyone wants to know what it was like to be there. I feel like I’d need to write an entire book to describe it. I’d call it THE MOSH PIT OF HISTORY. Because from Sunday’s concert to Tuesday night’s celebrations, it was crowded and intense and deliriously happy. And like the lunatic that I sometimes am, I threw myself into it – all five foot nothing of me (alone on Tuesday, by the way, since St. John was cordoned off in the uber-secure zone for marchers) – and man, was it a great ride!
And if I wrote a book, I’d design the cover myself. (See, how I worked this week’s topic right in there?) I have so many pictures that I could use. Not actual pictures mind you, as those are all pretty much of the backs of people’s heads. But I have loads of pictures in my mind of the crowds waiting patiently to get onto the trains and then being jam packed, but everyone happily squishing closer together when someone yelled, “Yes we can!” Then emerging from the Metro stations into downtown DC and being welcomed by gleeful volunteers handing out giant name tags that read, “Hello my fellow American. My name is _________ and I’m from ________.” And underneath, a picture of Barack Obama and the words, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
I’d also have a picture of my adopted family from Virginia. Being by yourself among two million people can be frightening – for a short, lost, claustrophobic. But all the members of “Blanket Family” each sported a colorful blanket over their coats. I had one too (and good thing because, dang it was cold) – and that was enough to bond us (well, that and the fact that they are awesome people!). They looked out for me – even included me in their headcount – as we shuffled our way to the Mall, then played Uno, shared snacks and tried to keep warm as we waited for the ceremony to begin.
And I’d put a picture of the tall, elder, black woman who saw me craning my neck for a view moments before Barack Obama took his oath. “You sure are short,” she said. “Can you see anything?’ And when I told her no, she said, “You cannot come all this way and not see it!” And she pulled me right up in front of her and pointed out exactly where I needed to look to catch my two square inches of Jumbotron, my two square inches of history in the making.
“Is this really happening?” she asked just before Obama took his oath. “Or am I just dreaming?” So I pinched her and told her, “Nope, it’s really happening.” And when THE MOMENT came and couples hugged and kissed like it was New Year’s Eve in Times Square, I hugged the tall, black woman and we both cried. “I know Dr. Martin Luther King is smiling up there in heaven right now!” she said. But I was sure that Dr. Martin Luther King was right there on the Mall with us.
And then there’d be this beautiful photo: President Barack Obama with his hand on Lincoln’s bible being held aloft by a beaming First Lady Michelle Obama. And arching above it all I’d have the words, “Mission Accomplished” because any book I wrote would have to be a little political and a lot funny. But of course, my photo wouldn’t be a nice clear, up close photo (heck, you can see that on any newspaper in the world). No, mine would be from way, way back, near the Washington Monument with about two million of my closest friends – all races, all ages, from all walks of life and every corner of the country and the globe – all eyes brimming with tears, all hearts full of hope, all mashed together in common purpose. And right across the very top of the book cover, perhaps just above where it would one day say, “New York Times Bestseller” would be the words: “THIS DAY MADE POSSIBLE BY DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING!”
p.s. I’ll be writing more about the experience at my blog, I’ll Keep You Posted. And I’d love to hear about your experience too.