I Watched the Inauguration at Whole Foods. Where Were You?

Via Merete Mueller
on Jan 20, 2009
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I’ve been sick for the past week or so, so when I woke up this morning, planning to meet some friends at a breakfast joint to watch the inauguration, or maybe make my way to a nearby cafe, the first thing I thought was that I needed some fruit. Call it a Vitamin C craving, all I knew was that I needed a kiwi, a pineapple, some strawberries—whatever. My boyfriend and I arrived at Whole Foods just minutes before the inauguration was scheduled to start and oddly enough found it equipped with a flat screen TV behind the checkout aisles and a crowd of both employees and customers wearing paper hats printed with stars and stripes.

As I bought my pint of blackberries and an orange, Aretha Franklin stepped to the podium to sing America the Beautiful. So I pulled up a chair and watched the inauguration in a supermarket. A continuous line of customers checked out in the background, and a construction crew was working on a hole in the parking lot outside. A little girl wearing pink shoes ate a handful of dry Corn Flakes in her dad’s arms. Not the most romantic location, but a powerful reminder that life goes on. That momentous occasions happen, when each of us suddenly seems stunned and proud to be standing together—reminded of a larger picture—but that these historical moments are not separate from our own mundane lives. And that it’s our job to take the inspiration and hope sparked by today’s inauguration and weave it into our daily routine, each morning waking up, and placing one foot in front of the other.

Where were you during the inauguration?


About Merete Mueller

Merete is a writer and filmmaker, and was once-upon-a-time the Managing Editor of elephant journal's print incarnation, from 2006-2008. Today, you can find her on Twitter @meretemueller and on her blog To The Bones. Her first documentary, "TINY: A Story About Living Small", about people who have downsized their lives into homes the size of a parking space, premiered at SXSW in March 2013.


5 Responses to “I Watched the Inauguration at Whole Foods. Where Were You?”

  1. Fritz says:

    Where was I ? At the Valley Tire annual sales meeting in Erie, PA . . . I missed the actual swearing in, but have been watching some of the footage and hope to see a rerun later on. What I was thinking at the time, however, was exactly what you wrote. How our day continues regardless of what is happening or what larger-than-life event is taking place. And how to take the emotion/feeling of the moment (if it feels different or inspiring) and transport that energy into other moments. Pretty cool.

  2. In my living room… on my couch… simultaneously making muffins.

  3. Christa Mueller says:

    I was standing in the vault at the Archaeological labs at Historic Jamestowne looking over the shoulder of Curator Bly Straub. We were struck that our Founders allowed, in their careful planning and painful compromises, for the evolution of our government and society. There are more of us now, but the tools that they gave us should allow for us to deal with anything. Thanks for asking, Heather. Your picture of the grocery store was very vivid to me.


  4. Emmanuelle says:

    I was in the Adolescent Assessment Unit of the Massachusetts hospital where I teach and sat with my students, aged 12 to 19, watching that great moment. We had just worked on a lesson about the history of inauguration ceremonies and finished in just enough time to turn on the TV. Nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and janitors quickly joined us as well in the main room. For a few minutes, it was nice to see a kind of peace in the unit. Sometimes, that environment can be very intense because of the baggage some of the students carry and because, well, they’ve been committed to a psychiatric ward for mood disorders. But it really ended up being a simple but inspiring moment for me. I am so happy I got to share it with them, and it is one I’ll never forget.