Looking Back, Looking Forward

January 20, 2016
On this day, I find myself looking back. To the last time I watched an Inauguration. I remember I was in chemistry class and my teacher turned the lights off. She brought the large projection screen down and fiddled with the remote. A student had to get up and help her put it on the right setting. The room was so dark and I was smiling in it. I felt safe in it. Cocooned in warmth. I wrapped my sweater around me and leaned forward on my desk.
I remember wondering how nervous he was. I remember I didn’t like the poem very much. I remember how it looked cold in DC. I remember the slight rise of veins on his forehead. I remember the class tittering when the lines got messed up. I remember realizing how nervous he was.
I didn’t wonder what the next Inauguration would look like. I wasn’t looking forward. I was trapped in this warm moment. I didn’t know I would be 25 before I saw one again. I didn’t know I would be in New York. I didn’t know how angry they would get. I didn’t know how angry I would get. I didn’t know what it felt like to march between stopped buses and cars. I didn’t know the pain you felt in your arms when you raised a sign for three hours. I didn’t know how easy it was to ignore that pain.
Today I try my best to look forward. I try to remember where I will be tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. We had our plans laid out. Down to almost every day. What are we doing today? What are we doing next week? What are we doing for the next four years? Will it be more than four years? I wonder what our next Inauguration will look like. I wonder who I will be looking at.

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This short prose piece was published in Quail Bell Magazine in 2017.

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