Once on the lawn area (near the carousel and MSNBC) everyone was crowded in front of the JumboTron. At first I had a decent area of space, although I was barely at the center and couldn't even get to it if I tried. Although some did, but they soon found themselves caught not able to move forward or backward anymore. An hour later, I was squished up against three people from D.C. and had a bunch of middle-schooler's pushing from behind. I couldn't see anything, so just took shots from my camera by pointing it up and over my head. Although some lucky people were up in trees getting far superior shots.
It was easy to get overwhelmed in this mosh pit. I had brought a hotel towel to sit on, but there was no attempting that without getting toppled. After another hour of getting shoved and seeing people squeeze past me. I decided to move off to the side, where I had entered. Here I found a bit more space and could see the screen whenever someone's head moved, but I also started getting sleepy. I still had three hours ago and the area didn't seem to be getting better or worse, so I risked getting warmed up in a hotel lobby. I wasn't the only one. People were sleeping and hanging around the entire floor. Did I forget to mention that it was only 19 degrees and I could barely feel my toes? I kept asking myself, why am I here? I could hear better if I was in front of my TV. However, there was a unified excitement to be there and to say you were one of those specks in the crowd on TV for years and years to come as this day goes down in history.
Minutes before Noon, there was definitely a buzz in the air. People started moving in place, getting revved up. Everyone looked at their watches and then roared into cheers, hollers, clapping when Obama appeared on the screen. At this point the crowd sort of swarmed in again, which was kind of scary, but warming. There were a lot of echoes of encouragement when he said things like hope or mentioned the African American leaders before him. Oh and lots of singing with Aretha. No one immediately near me cried or anything, but they were surely riveted and it's at that moment when his speech started, when I was glad to say, "I was there."
Afterwards, when walking back (it felt like I was being carried back due to the quick streaming of people flowing past me) everyone was happy again, happy to be getting warm and happy with the future of the country and of course happy with President Obama's speech. The D.C. woman next to me in her fur lined hat had said, "he said it all!" I couldn't agree more.
You can also read my Twitter updates during the morning here. I sadly lost internet connection later in the day from my blackberry and cell, so the tweets stop around 11 a.m.