I’ve been trying to figure out how to put this past week in words, and I’ve been at a loss.  Definitely a week for change, for inspiration, for optimism, for doing more than our share.

The trip to DC started Monday afternoon.  On the drive down, an amazing interview on NPR with Congressman John Lewis. I had never heard of him before, but was inspired by his story.  Amazed that within his lifetime things would change so much, and that yet there would still be work left to do.  He earned even more of my respect when he supported same sex marriage, because opponents are showing the same fear and discrimation as racism.

So, on Martin Luther King day, the day before we watched the first black president take his oath of office (kinda), this piece moved me to realize just how little I have done for any cause.   Random and I both felt we need to do more.  However, wherever, for whatever cause or injustice we believe in.  It changed me in little and large ways that I can’t explain because I haven’t even said some of them out loud.  I only hope I can keep the momentum and follow through with those desires, not getting bogged down in the daily grind.

The next day, the message would be reinforced even further.

Monday evening lead us to the Rock and Roll Hotel for a Burner meet and greet.  A few familiar faces, and met a few new ones (forgot half their names), we enjoyed some beers and some of our favorite DJ’s before heading back, staying with a college friend of Random’s on the outskirts of DC.

We had wavered on the decision to head out to the mall, and while we decided to go, events kept us up much later than anticipated and that 5:30 am alarm was quite unwelcome.  By the time we were all vertical, the news reported that the areas in front of the jumbo-trons were completely full to capacity.  So, we bought champagne and watched the inauguration on an HDTV, with our host and one of his friends in Maryland.  While we do miss that we weren’t out in the crowd for it, really we didn’t miss standing in the cold for hours.

I probably don’t need to share the details of what was shown – we laughed over the flub of the oath.  We were moved by the musical performance – I love Yo-Yo Ma, and it doesn’t matter to me that they didn’t risk a poor performance and played a recording.  You could see the joy in his face when the tempo of the piece picked up, and nothing was more thrilling than hearing an amazing piece and seeing their joy at doing what they love at such a momentous event.

We didn’t watch the parade.  Eh, it was just a parade… Besides, we had bigger things to do.  Or littler.  Um, ok.  So we played Little Big Planet.  That game is awesome!

Back in DC at night, we attended the Art for Change Ball.  This ball was thrown by artists and Burners in the DC area, including some that we knew from our regional burn event, Playa Del Fuego.  Several DJs and dance floors, art, fire performances and a variety stage filled two buildings and one tent.  Getting past the security checkpoint made us go the entire way around the block, but as soon as we came around a corner and heard the music from the tent, a smile came across our faces.

Speaking of security, as I was showing my ticket and passing through the checkpoint, in my red wig and monstrous green fake fur coat, carrying my travel hoop, the guard called me an artist.  I was not there to perform.  My costume was among the plainer ones, the fur coat chosen for it’s warmth, and the wig just because it wouldn’t have been special enough for a “ball” without it.  His simple statement made me smile, and realize that the things I do CAN make me an artist.  Just maybe – despite my feelings of inadequate action that began the day before – I do change things around me in little ways.  I don’t mean this to be an egotistical thing, but just an awareness of how we can affect those around us, even if it just means looking (to some) a little silly.

We caught pieces of some performances: one singer on the variety stage in a red boa, two dance pieces in the main room (one was a powerful piece about how some in our country respect the flag much more than their fellow human beings, as they danced on and poured dirt/water on an American flag), fire performers, and again, some excellent DJ’s.

Towards the end of the night, I sat resting and watched other ball attendees walking past in their tuxedos and gowns.  Every once in a while, people would hear the beats of DJ Everyday, look up and see our group dancing in the windows, and cheer and dance as they walked.  I liked to imagine that they were bored at the stuffy ball they were coming from, and wished fervently that they had known about OUR ball.  Maybe that’s just my imagination.  In any case, we gave and received some smiles and waves, perhaps reminding us of what we have in common rather than our differences.

An interactive art project involved temporary tattoos and asked us to share photos - see http://www.flickr.com/photos/hope2009

DJ Everyday never fails to move us, even if it’s only emotionally once our dancing shoes came off, and we stayed past the close of the metro… a move we soon learned we’d regret.  We hit the frigid streets and kept walking, as everywhere we were behind other people trying to hail cabs as well.  Eventually, we got away from the crowds and began seeing available cabs once again.  Saved! Or not.  We needed to go to the very edge of DC, and every cab we hailed either said “no” or just took off without saying a word.  This went on, and on, and on.  I really don’t know how long we were out there.  At least an hour, probably more like one and a half… It felt like a year.  By the time a cabbie agreed to take us, I had been long past my breaking point.  Even when we were home, I sat curled up under a blanket for an hour shivering.

With time, hot tea, and advil, I was eventually able to feel warm and fall asleep.  We slept in the next morning, and went for an expensive but always worth it meal at Eggspectations, and goofed off before heading home just in time for traffic.

While I didn’t witness the inauguration in person, the trip was more than worth it.  And it was a kick ass party as well.

So, after this inaugural week, I feel blessed for the community which inspires me and surrounds me with creative people.  I feel lucky to be able to bring a part of that into the “mundane” world and inspire, shock, or keep people on their toes.  I am so thankful to be alive and in love at a time where – in most of the country, at least – I don’t have to worry about physical harm or danger because of who I love.  I feel responsible and inspired for doing more, for doing everything that I can do – because it still won’t measure up to the sacrifices of so many, but we can’t let that stop us from trying.

Change is the word of the week.  But the quote of the week for me is not something that John Lewis or President Obama said.  It was a little line in a little blog.  A little blog about knitting, which has inspired it’s readers to donate a total of $590,768 (to date) to Doctors without Borders, and just raised the goal amount to an even $1 million.

Andy said “As we head off into a year of uncertainty, there is one thing I know is true. Things will be better if we all take care of each other than they will be if we don’t take care of each other.”

There’s change around us that is beyond our control, but we always can control who we are and what we do – and when times are rough, that’s when what we do matters most.

So, I raise my glass to President Obama.  I don’t look upon him blindly as someone to save us and solve all our problems, but he has better answers than anyone I’ve heard in a long time.  I admire him, congratulate him on having the courage to take such a historical step, and I look forward to witnessing him create a legacy of lasting, beneficial change.

Let us all be the change we seek, for we are not one person called President, not even just one country, but residents of a planet which cries out for freedom, justice, peace, and love for each and every one of us.