Obama kite

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By Amanda Witherell

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It was a great day to be out and about in San Francisco. This morning, before I headed to Civic Center to watch the swearing-in ceremony in front of City Hall, I was recalling where I had been in 2005 when Bush was inaugurated for the second time -- sitting glumly at my kitchen table in Sedgwick, Maine, listening to the brutal truth broadcast by NPR. Though I lived in the heart of Sedgwick, one could say the "civic center" of what could still be considered a one-horse town -- the street was empty. Town was silent. I turned off the news and, like many of my friends and family, didn't turn it back on for weeks. It was too depressing.

But today, it felt like a time to be among people. Hundreds filled Civic Center to watch the ceremony broadcast on a giant screen by NextArts, and when he spoke, the crowd was silent, attentive, listening, digesting his words and cheering en masse at the ones that hit home.

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And it seemed that everywhere I went there were signs of Obama. I walked down the sidewalk behind a group of women were talking about how they felt like a great weight had been lifted off their shoulders. Upbeat strangers chatted amicably with me at the DMV, in spite of waiting lines streaming out the door. At Ocean Beach, a man was flying a floppy, awkward square kite in the unusually calm afternoon breeze.

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When I got closer, I could see it was Obama.

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