Once in a lifetime

This morning we woke up a little earlier than usual. I sent e-mail to Jonah’s teacher saying he’d be late to school. We ate breakfast, piled into the car, and drove to 142 Throckmorton, a theater in downtown Mill Valley. The sky was blue and the bright sunshine made it too warm for the jackets we wore. Inside the theater were old hippies, young families, and teens gathered to eat pastries, drink coffee, and watch Barack Obama take the oath of office. On the screen at the front of the theater, C-SPAN showed the activity on the steps of the Capitol and the throngs packed onto the National Mall. The crowd cheered for Bill Clinton and booed for Bush and Cheney. We took our seats, Jonah on my lap, Archer and Andrea beside me. Obama appeared and the kids began to cheer without any prompting. The audience rose to its feet for the first of several times. We watched the ceremonious proceedings with our arms around one another, exchanging frequent smiles. Andrea and I cried. Obama was sworn in; the place erupted with jubilation. He delivered his speech. The kids asked questions; we explained. Many times, a phrase spoken by Obama was answered with a heartfelt “Yeah!” from one person or another in our audience. “We will restore science” — huge cheers. “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals” — huge cheers. Afterward: catharsis, hugging, strangers congratulating one another, and as we filed out, an impromptu drum circle on the street.

It meant more to me than I can express to watch this inauguration with my sons in my embrace, all of us appreciating the historic importance of the occasion. It is for them, after all, and for their adorable counterparts Malia and Sasha, that President Obama and I must fix America.

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