Post-Inaugural Meltdown

I’ve never been so happy, and man does it hurt!

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My head aches. My legs throb. I want to sleep but can’t. I’m not hungry and don’t want to drink. But, boy, am I happy. 

I’m no doctor, but I believe I’m suffering from one doozy of an emotional breakdown. 

Even now, exactly seven days after the Obama family spent their first night in the White House, I’ve yet to experience a fully restful slumber. I’m whipped, in a way that I have not yet fully processed, from the backlash of activity swirling around our new—and 44th—president. 

Clearly all this giddy pain and suffering, this post-inauguration hangover that I’m feeling, is more emotional than physical. Though physically I am still bone tired. Emotionally, though, perhaps it was all too much to take in. I knew Jan. 20 was coming. I knew it would be grand and historic. I knew it would be cold and raw. I was prepared for all of that, and nothing about that glorious Tuesday was unexpected.  

But what I didn’t know—and had no way to prepare myself for—was the tsunami of emotions that drenched me when the unbelievable was made real.  

As Obama, surrounded by his family and the watching world, placed his hand on the Lincoln Bible, I was surprised to find myself thinking of my father. He died a year before the election, so he never saw a black president of the United States. Ditto for my mother, who died more than a decade ago. 

For all my pride in the moment, I wished I could have shared it with them—just as my own college-aged daughter seemed to revel in being able to soak in the experience with her parents. 

“It’s really happened, Papa,” she said, after Obama pledged to protect and defend the Constitution. “I’m happy we’re here together.” 

That’s when the first tears fell, the emotional breakdown couldn’t be contained. Those first few days following the inauguration remain a kaleidoscopic blur. No longer the candidate-turned-president-elect, Obama was suddenly the leader of the free world. As unbelievable as last year’s campaign, November’s election and the way-too-long transition were, the inauguration and the resulting scenes of Obama sitting behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office were like something from a childhood comic book, for me, a fantasy come to life. 

Was that really a brother ordering Gitmo closed? Were all those people praying for him to lead the nation and world at the prayer service in the National Cathedral? Is he using a bully pulpit to push through economic stimulus legislation? Is that big, black ride just to keep him safe? Is it going to keep him safe?