It's not the last day, but a first day for something new
What a week! In case you've taken to your bomb shelter for the past few days (and somehow had no access to any news sources but the Detroit Lakes Tribune's Sunday Wave section), I'll catch you up: former President-elect Barack Obama plus Inauguration Day equals President Barack Obama plus America in somewhat of a frenzy.
Following the brrrrrrrrring! of my alarm on Tuesday morning, the second thought to flit through my mind -- after "I should definitely still be sleeping" -- was "AGH! OBAMA!"
Yeah, I was psyched. I put on my Obama tee, jabbed in my Vote Obama button, blasted Obama-themed music, squealed in Obama-esque delight, and set forth to meet the Obama-lovin' halls of DLHS, rampant with the trappings of hope and change, as all high schools inevitably are.
When I flipped on the inauguration events in Mr. Vagle's study hall, I think I was honestly trembling with anticipation. When I sat enraptured as Biden was sworn in, prayers were preached, songs were strummed, and Fergus Falls was fervent, my eyes were riveted to the screen, necessitating a large wrench or perhaps freshly baked doughnuts to pry my attentions from the countdown.
As the camera view scanned over George and Laura (I feel I can speak of them on a first name basis now that I need not be intimidated by their apparent authority), I wondered: how must it feel to draw a close on eight years in the White House?
It must be bizarre to move out of 1600 Pennsylvania, to lose that ever-crippling fear of being pelted with size 10 sneakers, and to drop the title.
What did Bush think upon waking up Tuesday morning? I haven't the connections to know for certain, but it had to have been quite a funny sensation. One would imagine there'd be a degree of sadness, mayhap an emptiness of sorts. Might there have been a hint of relief, or an almost-excitement at changing pace and letting someone else carry the weight of the nation on his shoulders? Why certainly.
Those last few days and hours in office must have carried a peculiar feeling of apocalyptic comings -- not so much in a negative sense, but signaling a fairly significant, shall we say, remodeling of his existence. When you know it's the last time you'll bear be referred to as Mr. President or sleep in that House or be that guy...the way in which you view the proceedings has got to be slightly surreal.
Moments later, the camera shot over to Obama, stepping up to the fairly monstrous plate, and, laying his hand on Lincoln's Bible, Chief Justice John Roberts asked him, "Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?"
The kicker? He said yes! That certainly wouldn't have been my response, and certainly not before checking once more to make sure I didn't have breakfast cereal residue in my teeth, or that, yes, I was wearing pants.
So, what must Barack have thought when he woke up Tuesday morning? "Hm, I think I'll wear the red tie," obviously, but beyond that? I would guess a sense of thrill stuck him in the gut, and nervousness poured as heavily over his mind as the syrup he poured over his waffles. (My favorite Obama quote -- just before those mumblings about extending hands and unclenching fists -- is "Why can't I just eat my waffle?" I hope he did Tuesday morning.)
When Barack fudged up his oath a smidge, it only made him more wonderful, in my eyes at least. After all, it WAS his first time (apparently the second just-in-case oath taken in the Map Room on Wednesday went more smoothly -- practice does indeed make perfect, darlin'). Doing something for the first time is exciting, electrifying...and nerve-wracking.
I find that I'm relating to our esteemed former President Bush during my senior year. Realizing that everything I do at DLHS is being done for the last time is entirely bizarre: the final night of Les Miz closed curtains on what has been a huge piece of my life every fall since eighth grade; debating bills and banging gavels at student congress was a bittersweet last; getting ready to perform at subsections with "My Name is Rachel Corrie" for next week's one act play competition feels strange, because I have the knowledge that once our run is done, I'm never going to do this again.
Finals two weeks ago contrasted sharply with last week's start of second semester. My last government and religion classes felt almost strained, and I saw them through a filter, muted and strange...although my contacts were bothering me that day, so perhaps that's what I owe my blurred vision to.
My first few days of doing internships were different, too, but fresh and a little bit exhilarating. (I'm interning at the newspaper because I think it will force me out of my comfort zone.)
Senior year also holds a lot of firsts. For example, I'd never applied to college before last fall -- which is probably comparable to never having been president of a ridiculously influential country.
Before my 18th birthday earlier this month, I'd never spent an entire day scratching off lotto tickets, only pausing for cigarette breaks. As a matter of fact, I still haven't, but what a first that'd make, huh?
Come May, I'll have my last day as a student of DL's public schools, followed by my first stroll in a cap and gown. And then what? It starts over.
When I was Facebooking while trying to get my thoughts together enough to pen this column, my buddy Luke told me that beginnings and endings aren't so much the openings and closings of chapters in a book, as they are the transitions between scenes in a play. Thank God he didn't make any sports references, or I'm certain I wouldn't have understood.
As it is, however, I think I get it. You see, Bush didn't merely just spend his last days in office...because, right now, he's spending his first days out of it, and I'm willing to bet that, essentially, he's still the same man he's been for the past eight years and all those preceding. It's only a set change during the blackout between acts.
And Obama? He's beginning a presidency, but he's ending a senatorship, which is really only a page-turn in a script, muddled with thumbprints and riddled with stage directions and possible character choices.
Wow. I'm going to miss high school theater.
Thressa Johnson is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.